Skip to main content

Full text of "Speeches of Andrew Johnson : President of the United States"

See other formats










Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by 

In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts 







TENN xxxvii 

SPEECH AT WASHINGTON, April 3, 1865 . . xliii 


April 15, 1865 xlviii 

ON THE VETO-POWER, delivered in the House of 
Representatives of the United States, August 
2, 1848 ........ 1 

ON THE HOMESTEAD BILL, delivered in the Senate 

of the United States, May 20, 1858 . . 12 

OF SECESSION, delivered in the Senate, De 
cember 18 and 19, 1860 .... 77 

ON THE STATE OF THE UNION, delivered in the 

Senate, February 5 and 6, 1861 . . . 176 


in the Senate, March 2, 1861 . . . 290"* 

SPEECH AT CINCINNATI, OHIO, June 20, 1861 . 316 

ON THE WAR FOR THE UNION, delivered in the 

Senate, July 27, 1861 .... 328- 




BRIGHT, January 31, 1862 .... 405 

18, 1862 451 

INAUGURAL ADDRESS, delivered in the Senate of 

the United States, March 4, 1865 . . 457 


1865 468 



ANDREW JOHNSON was born on the 29th day 
of December, _1808, at JR,aieigh, North Carolina. 
While yet in his fifth year71iis~ fatTJer" TosT*^mife 
through generous and successful efforts to save 
Col. Thomas Henderson, editor of tlie ~" Raleigh 
Gazette," from drowning, leaving his wife and son 
dependent upon themselves for future support. The 
untoward event of his father s death prevented the 
lad from receiving even an ordinary education, and, 
at the age of ten years, he was apprenticecTto a tailor 
in his native town. Devoting himself steadily and 
earnestly to his new occupation, he thus began life 
by a struggle with its daily duties, brightened by 
probable visions of the future, but into which 
dreams the possibility of an attainment to his pres 
ent position presumed not to enter. 

In. the society of his fellow-workmen he became 
conscious of his great ignorance, and was possessed 
with a desire to learn to read. The visits to the 
workshop of a gentleman who lightened the hours 
of toil by reading to the workmen, still further 
aroused the ambition of the young apprentice. 
The volume thus read, (a collection of speeches by 



British statesmen,) sowed in his mind a germ which 
in after-years was developed in the legislative halls. 
He devoted the hours after his day s work was done 
to mastering the alphabet, and then asked the loan 
of the volume that he might learn to spell. The 
gentleman, pleased at his earnestness and appreciat 
ing his ambition, presented to him the book, and 
otherwise assisted him in his studies. Through in 
dustry and patience, aided by a strong determina 
tion to overcome all obstacles, success crowned his 
efforts, and books were no longer sealed volumes 
to his youthful mind. 

At the expiration of his apprenticeship in 1824, 
he went to Laurens Court House, S. C., where he 
worked as journeyman tailor until May, 1826, when 
he returned to Raleigh. There he remained until 
September of the same year, when with his mother 
he removed to Greenville, a small town in Eastern 
Tennessee, at which place he succeeded in obtaining 
work. Soon jafter his settlement in Greenville, he 
married a young woman whose attainments and de 
votion exerted a marked and beneficial influence on 
his future life. Sharing in the desires of her hus 
band to acquire knowledge, and in his ambition to 
rise to distinction, she read to him and instructed 
him by her conversation as he plied the needle on 
his work-bench, thus lightening his labor by her 
presence and encouragement. At night the instruc 
tions of the day were continued by lessons in writing 
and arithmetic. Actuated by the highest motives, 


his efforts seconded by unflagging perseverance and 
an indomitable will, he proved an attentive student 
and a good scholar, and his estimable wife realized 
the first-fruits of her teachings in his growing pop 
ularity with the workingmen of the town in which 
they lived. 

Thinking to improve his fortunes he left Green 
ville and moved further West, but after an absence 
of about a year, he returned with his wife to his 
former home, where he permanently settled. Self- 
reliance and energy were early developed in his 
character, while the method of his education sharp 
ened and improved his reasoning faculties. The 
broad and comprehensive views of the more liberal 
British statesmen, implanted in his mind by the 
readings in the old workshop, took deep root ; and 
in his further studies, the principle of Republican 
government the fact that it is a government of 
the people, by the people, and for the people be 
came the centre around which clustered all his 
thoughts, hopes, and aspirations. 

He saw that the aristocracy of the town, who 
were supported by slave labor, despised the white 
man who maintained himself and family by his own 
exertions ; that capital, represented by the few, was 
to rule, and not the intelligence of the many who 
earned their bread by their daily toil. This was 
contrary to all his preconceived ideas, and he de 
voted himself heart and soul to the correction of the 
fallacy. By his appeals to the laboring classes he 


aroused them to assert their right to representation 
in the town councils, and, in 1828, the young tailor 
was chosen as Alderman, which position he held un 
til 1830. In this latter year he was elected Mayor, 
and served in that capacity for the three succeeding 
years. He was also appointed Trustee of Rhea 
Academy by the County Court. In 1834 he in 
terested himself successfully in the adoption of a 
new constitution for Tennessee, hy which impor 
tant rights were guaranteed to the mass of the peo 
ple, the freedom of the press established, and other 
liberal measures adopted. 

Andrew Johnson was now fairly^-^nli&tedr in 
public life. Identified with the interests of the 
working classes, he devoted himself earnestly to 
improving their condition, to raising them from 
the position to which the aristocrats had doomed 
them, to the independence and dignity of freemen. 
His zeal in their behalf secured for him their uni 
versal esteem ; they looked to him as their friend 
and champion, and were ever willing to advance his 
interests by their hearty support and by their votes. 
Consequently, in 1835, having proved himself in 
every way worthy~oFTheir suffrage, he was elected 
a member of the House of Representatives of the 
State for the counties of Greene and Washington. 
He became an active member of this body, but was 
particularly noted for his opposition to a grand 
scheme of internal improvements, which he boldly 
denounced as a base fraud tending to impoverish 


the State treasury and increase State taxation. This 
course rendered him unpopular at the time, and at 
the election in 183T his place was filled by another 
representative. Time placed him right on the rec 
ord, however. The scheme he had opposed proved, 
as he had predicted, a useless burden on the peo 
ple, and in 1839 he was again returned to the 

During the Presidential contest of 1840, between 
Harrison and Van Buren, Mr. Johnson, in the ca 
pacity of Presidential Elector, canvassed the State 
in behalf of the latter candidate. He has been 
described as " an effective stump-speaker. His voice 
at first appears to be whining, but as he warms with 
his subject seems to entwine itself around the hearts 
of his followers and holds them spellbound." 

In 1841 he was elected State Senator from Haw- 
kins and Greene counties^nd during the two ensu 
ing years labored efficiently for the improvement of 
Eastern Tennessee. In the Senate, as in the lower 
branch of the Legislature, he proved a useful and 
active member. He was not an jornamentaLiegis- 
lator or hackney politician, but an earnest and able 
advocate of all that he believed to be rigftt ; an 
open, honest, and hearty^ denouncer of that which 
lie deemed wrong. 

The people, recognizing his abilities, respecting 
his character, and appreciating his services, deter 
mined to enlarge his sphere of usefulness, and in 
1843 he was nominated for Congress from the First 


District of Tennessee, embracing seven counties. He 
canvasse^TEe~3isfrict with his opponent, Col. John 
A. Asken, a popular gentleman of prominence and 
ability, and handsomely defeated him. He took his 
seat as member of the House of Representatives at 
Washington, in December, 1843, retaining that po 
sition by successive elections until 1853. 

The State having been redistricted previous to 
the election of the latter year, that portion in which 
Mr. Johnson resided was so allotted as to place him 
in a district having a large Whig majority, and thus 
he lost his seat in Congress. Gustavus A. Henry, 
at that time the Whig candidate for Governor, was 
the leading spirit in this movement, and Mr. John 
son determined to defeat the man who had thus 
" Gerrymandered," or, as he called it, " Henryman- 
dered " him out of Congress. After an exciting 
canvass, M r. Jo h ns on __ wag_j;h oggjl _(r n ve r n ( ) r , and 
again in 1855 he was elected, this time defeating 
one of the ablest Whigs in the State, Meredith P. 
Gentry. During his administration of the guber 
natorial duties, which he performed in the most im 
partial manner, he was^activaJn iirging upon Con 
gress the Homestead Bill, and exerted his influence 
for the spread of popular education. Under his 
successive regimes, much was accomplished for the 
benefit and internal improvement of Tennessee, and 
the sons of toil still found in him a zealous defender 
of their rights and advocate of their wants. 

In the year 1857 he was elected by the Legisla- 


ture of Tennessee United States 

termjof_six Jfears, anT33 

that office until the spring of 1862, when he was 

appointed Military Governor of Tennessee. Prior 

to his election to Congress, his public services had 

been confined to the limits of his State, but from 

this time he belongs to the country. 

Andrew Johnson wus emphatically " a represent 
ative of the people" IJorii of the people, and at 
an early age "thrown upon his own resources, he 
lived and grew up amongst the people, becoming 
familiar with their every-day lives and deeds, their 
opinions, their wrongs and their asserted rights, 
their inmost thoughts and their highest aspirations. 
Feeling " the smart of the want of a proper edu 
cation while young," but proud in the consciousness 
that for the knowledge he possessed he was in 
debted solely to his own exertions, he stood in the 
legislative halls, Andrew Johnson, Tailor and 
Statesman, the compeer of any member of either 
house. Modestly assuming, but thoroughly appre 
ciating the dignity of his position, he never permit 
ted any sneer at his calling, or any attempted dis 
paragement of the laboring classes, to pass unrebuked, 
and we find him breaking lances with the ablest 
debaters in Congress. 

" Sir, I do not forget that I am a mechanic. I 
am proud to own it. Neither do I forget that Adam 
was a tailor, and sewed fig-leaves, or that our Saviour 
was the son of a carpenter." 


He cordially hated aristocracy, and had decided 
objections to gentlemen, rearecT in affluence and 
idleness, arrogating to themselves the right to all 
the knowledge in the world. When Jefferson Davis 
superciliously asked, " What do you mean by 4 the 
laboring classes ? " Andrew Johnson answered, 
" Those who earn their bread by the sweat of their 
face, and not by fatiguing their ingenuity." 

A true Democrat, he was a firm believer hi the 
sovereignty of the^people, and held that members of 
the loweTToIise^oTCohgress were next in power to 
the people. Respecting statesmen and hating poli 
ticians, he claimed that upon the floor of the House 
trie" people had a right to be heard. He was 
thoroughly imbued with the idea that legislation 
was for the many, not for the few ; for the good of 
the whole country, and not for the benefit of any 

He was always consistently in favor of retrench 
ment in governmental expenses, and participated in 
nearly every debate upon appropriation bills, or acts 
requiring the expenditure of the public funds. He 
opposed the Smithsonian Institute, on the ground 
that it would be a burden on the public treas 
ury, without commensurate good results ; voted 
against all direct appropriations for the District of 
Columbia, arguing that any city in the United 
States would cheerfully contribute to have the Na 
tional Capital removed to its limits ; debated all 
bills to increase the clerical force of the different 


departments, declaring that if the clerks many of 
whom he believed to be political vampires doing little 
or nothing for government during six hours per day, 
and devoting the remainder of their time to drink 
ing, gaming, and abusing honest legislators in the 
newspapers were made to do a decent day s work 
there would be no necessity for such increase ; 
introduced resolutions to reduce the salaries of mem 
bers of Congress, and all officers of the Government, 
civil, military, and naval, amounting to over 81000, 
twenty per cent. ; also a resolution instructing the 
Committee on Finance to investigate and report 
how much and wherein the expenses of all the 
departments might be reduced ; opposed all appro 
priations for monuments and funeral expenses, and 
called for a statement of the items in the bill for 
funeral expenses of a distinguished member of the 
House ; denied the right of members to vote them 
selves books, &c., saying they " might just as well 
vote to increase their salaries " ; and refused his 
assent to the purchase of Mr. Madison s papers and 
Washington s Farewell Address, not from any want 
of respect for the services and memory of either, 
but from his dislike to " speculations and jobs." 

He was the true and honest friend of the poor, 
and of the lahorjpg ^lafil** 

gresj|_as their champion. He introduced the subject 
of Homesteads into the House of Representatives, 
and carried it to a successful issue in that branch. 
He also brought up the subject in the Senate, and 


debated it at great length, but the bill, as passed, 
was vetoed by Mr. Buchanan. 

Believing that the burdens of the Government 
should be borne by the rich and not by the poor, he 
proposed an amendment to the tariff bill, taxing 
capital instead of labor. He also opposed the tariff 
on tea and sugar. 

He had no faith in caucuses, and held that they 
gave the controlling power to a few politicians, and 
prevented a true representation of the people. At 
different times he offered resolutions to amend the 
Constitution so that the people should vote directly 
for- President. He advocated the bill to refund the 
fine imposed upon Andrew Jackson by Judge Hall 
at New Orleans (H. R., January 8, 1844) ; was in 
favor of the Annexation .of Texas (H. R., January 
21, 1845) ; discussed the Oregon question asserting 
our right to 54 40 , but sustained the administration 
in the final settlement of the question (H. R., Jan 
uary 31, 1846) ; addressed the House on the Mex 
ican question, in support of the administration, De 
cember 15, 1846, January 5", 1847, and August 2, 
1848 ; delivered an able argument on the veto 
power (H. R., August 2, 1847) ; opposed the bill 
establishing the Court of Claims (H. R., January 
6, 1849) ; made an, earnest plea for the -admissipn 
of California and the protection of slavery (H. R., 
June 5, 1850) ; debated the Mexican indemnity bill 
(H. R., January 21, 28, 1852) ; also the bill for right 
of way on rail and plank roads (H. R., July 20, 


1852) ; made a speech on frauds in the Treasury 
Department (H. R., January 13, 1853), and an 
other on coinage (H. R., February 2, 1853). 

While in the Senate, in addition to the measures 
alluded to more at length in this sketch, he opposed 
the increase of the regular army at the time of the 
Mormon difficulties (S., February 17, 18, 1857) ; 
had an earnest debate with Hon. John Bell, his col 
league, on the Tennessee resolutions inviting Bell 
to resign (S., February 23, 24, 1857) ; participated 
in the debate on the admission of Minnesota (S., 
April 6, 1858) ; opposed the Pacific Railroad bill, 
and repudiated the idea that it was imposed upon 
him as a Democratic measure (S., January 25, 
1859) ; advocated retrenchment (S., January 4, 
and February 12, 1859) ; and warmly defended 
Tennessee (S., March 26, 1860). 

Born and reared in a slave State, commencing 
and continuing his public career in another slave 
State, and himself the owner of slaves " acquired 
by the toil of his own hands," he accepted slavery 
as it existed and where it existed. Firm in the be 
lief that the agitation of the subject would ultimately 
lead to the abolition of slavery, and the consequent 
dissolution of the Union, he deprecated its introduc 
tion into the debates of Congress, and was amongst 
those who declared against the right to petition upon 
the matter, giving his reasons therefor in a speech 
delivered January 31, 1844. 

He was not an advocate of the extension of 


slavery, and was willing to leave the inhabitants of 
the Territories to decide whether it should or should 
not exist therein. 

" My position is, that Congress has no power to interfere 
with the subject of slavery; that it is an institution local in its 
character and peculiar to the States where it exists, and no 
other power has the right to control it." * 

Acting under these convictions, he zealously op 
posed any encroachments upon what he regarded 
as the rights of the slave States. He continued 
true to this belief, and was consistent in his course 
to the very last ; and in the stormy scenes in the 
Senate in December, 1860, we find him demanding 
new guaranties for the perpetuity of slavery. 

But it required the fiery ordeal of the crisis of 
1860 and 1861 to develop the strong points in his 
character, and to reveal his sincere love for and 
unswerving integrity to the Union. In those dark 
and terrible days, when each man distrusted his 
neighbor, the country demanded MEN, men with 
comprehension to grasp the great question of the 
day, men with foresight to discern its bearings 
upon the future, men of strength, "bold to take 
up, firm to sustain " the glorious banner of a Re 
public of States, " one and indivisible." It is but 
stating truth to say, that, amongst the many who 
were tried in the crucible of those terrible hours, 
Andrew -TrJincnn paina fprt}j fl gfrg^r.ion 
an honest patriot, a true man. 

1 Speech in House of Representatives, June 5, 1860. 


An ardent admirer of Andrew Jackson, the mem 
orable Words of that indomitable patriot " The 
Union; it must and shall be preserved" were 
indelibly engraven on his heart. In a speech de 
livered in the House of Representatives, December 
19, 1846, in support of the policy of Mr. Folk s 
administration in carrying the war into Mexico, he 
had said : 

/- XS N 

" I am in favor of supporting the administration in this ao&, 

because I believe it to be right. But, sir, I care not whether 
\right or wrong, I am for my country always" 

Thus fortified, with the Constitution for his shield 
he entered upon the stormy scenes preceding the 
rebellion. In December, 1859, he had denounced 
the John Brown raid on Harper s Ferry, and said 
he believed it to be the legitimate fruits of abolition 
teachings. He wished to have its leader punished 
under the Constitution, for an hostile irruption into 
a sovereign State. In 1860 he readily acquiesced 
in the election, under the same Constitution, of 
Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency, and feared 
none of the phantoms which so disturbed the imag 
ination of a majority of the Southern Senators and 
Representatives, He believed in conciliation, andlh. 
view of the increasing excitement at the South, 
thought the North should be willing to give some 
new constitutional guarantees for the protection of 
slavery, and introduced resolutions to that effect, 

December 13, 1860, which were referred to the 



Select Committee of Thirteen. Five days later, in 
a powerful speech, he denounced secession, and de 
nied the right of any State to withdraw from the 
Union. He appealed to the Southern Senators to re 
main in the Union and " fight for their constitutional 
rights on the battlements of the Constitution." He 
did not mean to be driven out of the Union ; and if 
anvbody must go out, it must be those who had 
violated the Constitution by passing personal liberty 
bills and opposing the execution of the fugitive slave 
law. 1 But treason had already begun its foul work, 
and he soon saw that the South in its madness 
would not listen to conciliation or compromise. 

Rising above sectional prejudice, and freeing him 
self from old party associations, he looked beyond 
the present, and meeting the issue boldly, declared 
for the Union now and forever. 

In the speech delivered in the Senate, February 
5th, 1861, he alludes to his having been denounced 
for his speech in December, but says, " I feel proud. 
I feel that I have struck treason a blow ; " and adds, 
" I am for preserving the Union ; and if it is to be 
done on constitutional terms, I am ready to stand by 
any and every man without asking his antecedents, 
or fearing what may take place hereafter." 

Thenceforward Andrew Johnson was to be found 
in the van, boldly fighting for the Union, and ready, 
if need be, to lay down his life for its preservation. 

At the first session of the Thirty-seventh Con- 

1 See page 77, Speeches. 


gress, in July and August, 1861, he presented the 
credentials of the Senators from West Virginia, 
with appropriate remarks ; on the 26th of July, 
1861, he introduced a resolution defining the ob 
jects of the war, as follows : 

Resolved, That the present deplorable civil war has been 
forced upon the country by the disunionists of the Southern 
States, now in revolt against the Constitutional Government, 
and in arms around the Capitol ; that, in this national emer 
gency, Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or 
resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country ; 
that this Avar is not prosecuted upon our part in any spirit of 
oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, 
nor for the purpose of authorizing or interfering with the 
rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend 
and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and all laws 
made in pursuance thereof, and to preserve the Union, with 
all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States, unim 
paired; that as soon as these objects are accomplished, the 
war ought to cease. 

This was passed, after a long debate, by a vote 
of thirty to five. 

On the 27th of July he delivered another memo 
rable speech, in which he arraigned his former asso 
ciates in the Senate as traitors, and by unanswerable 
arguments and an exhaustless statement of facts, 
convicted them by their own record. In his remarks 
on voting for the tariff, in August, he argued that 
it was no time to discuss details, and freely voted 
for the bill in order to sustain the Government. 

On the 31st of January, 1862, he made an 
able speech on the comTuct of Senator r Bright, and 


voted for the expulsion of the man, who, four years 
before, hacT administeredlo Mm the Senatorial oath. 

Meanwhile, affairs in the Border States were 
becoming more and more complicated. From the 
outset of the rebellion, the Secessionists had been 
rampant in Tennessee. The State had been sold 
to the rebels by Governor Harris and his myrmi 
dons. Mob law prevailed, and ruffians, with all the 
malignity of hate and the ferocity of brutes, had in 
augurated a reign of terror, and citizens who remained 
true to the Union, were subjected to every possible 
indignity and persecution. This had been carried 
so far, and the State had received so little protec 
tion and assistance from the General Government, 
that many of the Unionists had become submis- 
sionists to rebel rule for the sole purpose of saving 
their lives. The course of Senator Johnson in Con 
gress, in 1860, had entailed upon him the wrath of 
the leading and most bitter Secessionists. In De 
cember, he had been burned in effigy at Memphis ; 
and on his return to Tennessee in April, 1861, at 
the close of the session of Congress, he was assailed 
at various places along his route, was threatened 
with lynching, and repeatedly insulted by mobs of 
infuriated men. A price was set upon his head, and 
personal violence threatened if he remained in the 

In June, 1861, while on his way to Washington 
to attend the special session of Congress, he re 
ceived an ovation from the loyal citizens of Cincin- 


nati, and in an able speech, defined his position, 
announcing his unalterable determination to stand 


by the Union. While in Washington, he urged 
upon the President and Secretary of War the im 
portance and the justice of aiding and protecting 
the Unionists of East Tennessee. Returning to the 
West, in September, he addressed Union meetings 
at Newport, Ky., and at other places, and devoted 
himself zealously to arousing those Unionists who 
had fallen into or been forced into a state of apathy 
by the aspect of war. 

Meanwhile Kentucky had been invaded, and the 
rebels were overrunning Tennessee, plundering, 
burning, and murdering. In the Eastern portion of 
that State, they confiscated Mr. Johnson s slaves, 
went to his home, drove his sick wife with her child 
into the street, and turned their house, built by his 
own hands, into a hospital and barracks. 

In February, 1862, General Grant entered Ten 
nessee, and captured Forts Henry and Donelson. 
The subsequent advance of General Buell s forces 
compelled the withdrawal of the main body of the 
rebels from Western and Middle Tennessee. The 
larger portion of the State having been thus re 
covered and in the occupation of the Federal forces, 
President Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson Mili 
tary Governor, with the rank of Brigadier-General 
of Volunteers. This appointment was confirmed 
by the Senate, March 5th, and Governor Johnson 
left his seat in that body to enter upon the duties 
of his new position. 


It is difficult to conceive of a more fitting appoint 
ment than this. On the floor of the Senate, amidst 
the mountains of East Tennessee, and in the cities 
and towns of the State, he had openly denounced 
treason and boldly proclaimed that traitors should 
be hung. He had borne many personal indigni 
ties, had been outlawed by outlaws who had set 
a price on his head, his family had been merci 
lessly persecuted, and his friends and neighbors had 
been driven from their homes. Neither threats nor 
bullets could intimidate him. Fearless but just, reso 
lute but compassionate, he was the man of all men 
to " rule with a rod of iron " over traitors, to bring 
order out of anarchy, and to restore confidence where 
fear had had sway. Governor Johnson reached 
Nashville on the 12th of March, in company with 
Horace Maynard, Emerson Etheredge, and others 
who had been political exiles. He was enthusiasti 
cally received by the long suffering Unionists, and, in 
response to a serenade, addressed the assemblage, 
setting forth the views of the administration and 
shadowing his purposed policy. From his long and 
thorough acquaintance with Tennesseans, he knew 
the men with whom he had to deal. In a few days 
he published an " Appeal to the People," in which 
the subjects of secession, the state of affairs which 
then existed, and the promise of the future, were 
treated in a clear and comprehensive manner. 
This paper will be found in full in the following 
pages. Later in March, Governor Johnson ordered 


the Mayor and City Council of Nashville to take the 
oath of allegiance. Upon their declining so to do, 
their places were declared vacant, other officials 
were appointed, and they were subsequently incar 
cerated in the penitentiary. The press throughout 
the State was placed under proper supervision, and 
it was soon understood that spoken or written trea 
son would subject the offenders to justice. In April 
the editor of the u Nashville Banner" was arrested 
and his paper suppressed. Judge Guild, of the 
Chancery Court, was also imprisoned on a charge 
of treason. 

On the 12th of May an important convention 
was held at Nashville, to consider the subject of 
the restoration of the State to the Union. The 
meeting was numerously attended by citizens from 
all parts of the State, and Governor Johnson made 
one of his impassioned and characteristic addresses. 
The Unionists continuing to suffer from the depre 
dations of guerrillas, Governor Johnson issued the 
following proclamation : 

May 9, 1862. } 

Whereas, Certain persons, unfriendly and hostile to the 
Government of the United States, have banded themselves 
together, and are now going at large through many of the 
counties of this State, arresting, maltreating, and plundering 
Union citizens wherever found : 

Now therefore, I, Andrew Johnson, Governor of the State 
of Tennessee, by virtue of the power and authority in me 
vested, do hereby proclaim that in every instance in which a 
Union man is arrested and maltreated by the marauding bauds 


aforesaid, five or more rebels, from the most prominent in the 
immediate neighborhood, shall be arrested, imprisoned, and 
otherwise dealt with as the nature of the case may require ; 
and further, in all cases where the property of citizens loyal to 
the Government of the United States is taken or destroyed, 
full and ample remuneration shall be made to them out of the 
property of such rebels in the vicinity as have sympathized 
with, and given aid, comfort, information, or encouragement to 
the parties committing such depredations. 

This order will be executed in letter and spirit. All citizens 
are hereby warned, under heavy penalties, from entertaining, 
receiving, or encouraging such persons so banded together, or 
in any wise connected therewith. 

By the Governor: ANDREW JOHNSON. 


Secretary of State. 

An election for judge of the Circuit Court of 
Nashville having been ordered, Turner S. Foster, a 
well-known Secessionist, was chosen. The Gov 
ernor, too much of a law-abiding citizen to ignore an 
election ordered by himself, gave Foster his com 
mission as judge ; but fearing that he might abuse 
the power thus vested in him, ordered his arrest 
and sent him to the penitentiary on the same day. 
Early in June he issued an order that all persons 
guilty of uttering disloyal sentiments who should 
refuse to take the oath, and give bonds in 1000 
for their future good behavior, should be sent South, 
and be treated as spies if again found within the 
Federal lines. During this month Union meetings 
were held in various districts of the State, at all 
of which Governor Johnson appeared and took an 
active part. 


Later in the same month six prominent clergy 
men of Nashville, who not only entertained treason 
able sentiments but boldly preached them from their 
pulpits, were summoned before the Governor, and 
desired to take the oath. They requested five days 
to decide as to their, course, which request was 
granted. At the expiration of that time they de 
clined to " turn from the error of their ways," 
whereupon five of them were sent to prison, and 
the sixth, on account of illness, paroled. 

The next four months proved a dark and peril 
ous period for the citizens of Nashville and the 
safety of the Provisional Government. In addi 
tion to the guerrillas under Forrest, which had in 
fested the State, the confederate forces under Kirby 
Smith, Anderson, Marshall, and Bragg, moved 
northward through Tennessee, to invade Kentucky. 
At different times Nashville was wholly isolated, its 
communications cut off in every direction, and the 
city in a state of siege. Provisions became scarce, 
and prices ruled enormously high ; the laws were 
with difficulty enforced, and much suffering pre 
vailed. Through all these trying times Governor 
Johnson remained hopeful and self-reliant, inspiring 
confidence in all around him, and reviving courage 
by his calmness and determination. Among the 
inhabitants of Nashville were many whose fathers, 
husbands, brothers, and sons were in arms against 
the Government, leaving their families to be cared 
for by the authorities. To remedy this, Governor 


Johnson addressed the following circular to such of 
the avowed Secessionists of the city as were able 
pecuniarily to respond : 

Nashville, August 18, 1862. ) 

SIR, There are many wives and helpless children in the 
city of Nashville and county of Davidson, who have been re 
duced to poverty and wretchedness in consequence of their 
husbands and fathers having been forced into the armies of 
this unholy and nefarious rebellion. Their necessities have 
become so manifest, and their demands for the necessaries of 
life so urgent, that the laws of justice and humanity would be 
violated unless something was done to relieve their suffering 
and destitute condition. 

You are therefore requested to contribute the sum of 
dollars, which you will pay over within the next five days to 
James Whitworth, Esq., Judge of the County Court, to be by 
him distributed among these destitute families in such manner 
as may be prescribed. 

Respectfully, &c. 


Attest : Military Governor. 

Secretary of State. 

The amounts so assessed varied from fifty to three 
hundred dollars. 

In September General Buell evacuated his posi 
tion in Southern Tennessee, falling back on Nash 
ville, and then proposed to abandon that city. 
Governor Johnson earnestly protested against such 
a course, asserting that the city should be defended 
to the last extremity, and then destroyed to prevent 
its falling into the hands of the enemy. He was 


so disgusted with General Buell s movements that 
he addressed a letter to President Lincoln on the 
subject, and recommended his removal. General 
Thomas, who was placed in command of the city, 
heartily seconded Governor Johnson s determination, 
and the city was strongly fortified. Afterwards 
General Negley was assigned to the command, and 
under him the more important operations were con 
ducted. Governor Johnson encouraged and aided 


General Negley in all his operations, and was active 
throughout the siege. He had no thought of 
retreating or of surrendering. "I am no military 
man," he said ; " but any one who talks of surren 
dering, I will shoot." 

After several attacks upon the city which were 
gallantly repulsed by General Negley, the rebels 
were forced to retire, as General Rosecrans, who 
had relieved General Buell, was advancing from the 
direction of Bowling Green. Early in November 
the forces under command of the latter General 
entered the city, and found its defenders on half 
rations, but brave and determined still. In October 
Governor Johnson s family rejoined him, after a 
series of perilous adventures on their journey from 
Bristol, in the northeastern part of the State. 

During the same month President Lincoln rec 
ommended an election for members of Congress in 
several districts in Tennessee, but the military opera 
tions then in progress prevented the accomplish 
ment of this design until December, \vhen Governor 


Johnson issued a proclamation for elections in the 
Ninth and Tenth Districts. He had from the first 
opposed the idea of allowing rebel sympathizers to 
vote on any of the acts necessary to the restora 
tion of the State, and closed his proclamation thus: 
* No person will be considered an elector qualified 
to vote, who, in addition to the other qualifications 
required by law, does not give satisfactory evidence 
to the judges holding the election of his loyalty to 
the Government of the United States." 

On the 13th of December Governor Johnson 
issued an order nearly identical with his circular of 
August 18, assessing the property of the Secession 
ists to the amount of sixty thousand dollars, for the 
support of the poor, the widows, and the orphans, 
made so by the war. 

In the spring of 1863, and again in the fall, he 
visited Washington, to confer with President Lin 
coln on the restoration of Tennessee to the Union. 
The military operations during the year succeeded 
in freeing the State of all organized bodies of rebels, 
and it was thought the time had arrived for the ful- 


filment of their hopes. Conventions were held at 
different places in the State, at which Governor 
Johnson and other leading men spoke in reference 
to the all-absorbing topic. The people, who had so 
long been subject to the tyranny of rebel thieves and 
murderers, were overjoyed at their deliverance, but 
needed instruction as to the method to be used for 
the accomplishment of the great and good work. 


Governor Johnson pithily and tersely stated the case 
as follows : 

" Tennessee is not out of the Union, never has been, and 
never will be out. The bonds of the Constitution and the 
Federal power will always prevent that. This Government 
is perpetual ; provision is made for reforming the Government 
and amending the Constitution, and admitting States into the 
Union ; not for letting them out of it. 

" Where are we now ? There is a rebellion ; this was antic 
ipated, as I said. The rebel army is driven back. Here lies 
your State ; a sick man in his bed, emaciated and exhausted, 
paralyzed in all his powers, and unable to walk alone. The 
physician conies. Don t quarrel about antecedents, but admin 
ister to his wants, and cure him as quickly as possible. The 
United States sends an agent, or a military governor, which 
ever you please to call him, to aid you in restoring your Gov 
ernment. Whenever you desire, in good faith, to restore civil 
authority, you can do so, and a proclamation for an election 
will be issued as speedily as it is practicable to hold one. One 
by one all the agencies of your State Government will be set 
in motion. A legislature will be elected ; judges will be ap 
pointed temporarily, until you can elect them at the polls ; and 
so of sheriffs, county court judges, justices, and other officers, 
until the way is fairly open for the people, and all the parts 
of civil government resume their ordinary functions. This is 
no nice, intricate, metaphysical question. It is a plain, com 
mon-sense matter, and there is nothing in the way but obsti 

On the 8th and 21st of Januar^l864, Governor 
Johnson addressed meetings at Nashville, and on the 
26th of the same month issued a proclamation for 
a State election. April 12th he addressed the peo- 


pie of Tennessee, at Knoxville, and again on the 
16th of the same month, at which latter time the 
citizens of the State, in mass meeting assembled, 
declared in favor of emancipation, and for a con 
vention to alter the Constitution so as to make Ten 
nessee a free State. 

On the 6th of June Governor Johnson was unani 
mously nominated by the National Union Conven 
tion, assembled "at Baltimore, as the candidate for 
the~Vice-P residency of the United States, Abraham 
Lincoln having been renominated for the Presi 
dency. When this intelligence reached Nashville, 
a mass meeting was held, and Governor Johnson 
invited to address them. He was greeted with the 
greatest enthusiasm. In the course of his remarks 
he spoke upon the topics of slavery and emancipa 
tion. Alluding to the nation as being " in the 
throes of a mighty revolution," he said : 

" While society is in this disordered state, and we are seek 
ing security, let us fix the foundations of the Government on 
principles of eternal justice, which will endure for all time. 
There are those in our midst who are for perpetuating the 
institution of slavery. Let me say to you, Tennesseans, and 
men from the Northern States, that slavery is dead. It was 
not murdered by me. I told you long ago what the result 
would be, if you endeavored to go out of the Union to save 
slavery, and that the result would be bloodshed, rapine, devas 
tated fields, plundered villages and cities ; and therefore I 
urged you to remain in the Union. In trying to save slavery 
you killed it, and lost your own freedom. Your slavery is 
dead, but I did not murder it. As Macbeth said to Banquo s 
bloody ghost, 


Never shake thy gory locks at me, 
Thou canst not say I did it. 

* Slavery is dead, and you must pardon me if I do not 
mourn over its dead body ; you can bury it out of sight. In 
restoring the State, leave out that disturbing and dangerous 
element, and use only those parts of the machinery which will 
move in harmony. 

" Now, in regard to emancipation, I want to say to the 
blacks that liberty means liberty to work and enjoy the fruits 
of your labor. Idleness is not freedom. I desire that all men 
shall have a fair start and an equal chance in the race of life, 
and let him succeed who has the most merit. This, I think, 
is a principle of Heaven. I am for emancipation for two rea 
sons : first, because it is right in itself; and. second, because 
in the emancipation of the slaves we break down an odious 
and dangerous aristocracy. I think that we are freeing more 
whites than blacks in Tennessee. I want to^pp ^a^ry br^- 
ken up, and when its barriers are thrown down., T to sfte 
industrious, thrifty emigrants pouring in from all parts of the 

In formally accepting the nomination of the Con 
vention, Governor Johnson wrote as follows : 

" NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 2, 1864. 

" HON. WILLIAM DEXNISON, Cliairman, and others, Committee of the 
National Union Convention: 

" GENTLEMEN", Your communication of the 9th ult, in 
forming me of my nomination for the Vice-Presidency of the 
United States by the National Convention held at Baltimore, 
and enclosing a copy of the resolutions adopted by that body, 
was not received until the 25th ult. 

"A reply on my part had been previously made to the action 
of the Convention in presenting my name, in a speech deliv 
ered in this city on the evening succeeding the day of the 
adjournment of the Convention, in which 1 indicated my ac- 


ceptance of the distinguished honor conferred by that body, 
and defined the grounds upon which that acceptance wag 
based, substantially saying what I now have to say. From 
the comments made upon that speech by the various presses 
of the country to which my attention has been directed, I 
considered it to be regarded as a full acceptance. 

" In view, however, of the desire expressed in your commu 
nication, I will more fully allude to a few points that have been 
heretofore presented. 

"My opinions on the leading questions at present agitating 
and distracting the public mind, and especially in reference to 
the rebellion now being waged against the Government and 
authority of the United States, I presume are generally under 
stood. Before the Southern people assumed a belligerent at 
titude, (and repeatedly since,) I took occasion most frankly to 
declare the views I then entertained in relation to the wicked 
purposes of the Southern politicians. They have since under 
gone but little, if any, change. Time and subsequent events 
have rather confirmed than diminished my confidence in their 

" At the beginning of this great struggle I entertained the 
same opinion of it I do now, and in my place in the Senate I 
denounced it as treason, worthy the punishment of death, and 
warned the Government and people of the impending danger. 
But my voice was not heard or counsel heeded until it was 
too late to avert the storm. It still continued to gather over 
us without molestation from the authorities at Washington, 
until at length it broke with all its fury upon the country. 
And now, if we would save the Government from being over 
whelmed by it, we must meet it in the true spirit of patriot 
ism, and bring traitors to the punishment due their crime, and, 
by force of arms, crush out and subdue the last vestige of 
rebel authority in every State. I felt then, as now, that the 
destruction of the Government was deliberately determined 
upon by wicked and designing conspirators, whose lives and 
fortunes were pledged to carry it out ; and that no compro- 


mise, short of an unconditional recognition of the independence 
of the Southern States could have been, or could now be pro 
posed, which they would accept. The clamor for " Southern 
Rights," as the rebel journals were pleased to designate their 
rallying cry, was not to secure their assumed rights in the Union 
and under the Constitution, but to disrupt the Government, and 
establish an independent organization, based upon Slavery, 
which they could at all times control. 

" The separation of the Government has for years past been 
the cherished purpose of the Southern leaders. Baffled in 
1832 by the stern, patriotic heroism of Andrew Jackson, they 
sullenly acquiesced, only to mature their diabolical schemes, 
and await the recurrence of a more favorable opportunity to 
execute them. Then the pretext was the tariff, and Jackson, 
after foiling their schemes of nullification and disunion, with 
prophetic perspicacity warned the country against the renewal 
of their efforts to dismember the Government. 

" In a letter, dated May 1, 1833, to the Rev. A. J. Crawford, 
after demonstrating the heartless insincerity of the Southern 
nullifiers, he said : Therefore the tariff was only a pretext, 
and disunion and a Southern Confederacy the real object. 
The next pretext will be the negro, or Slavery question. 

u Time has fully verified this prediction, and we have now 
not only the negro, or Slavery question, as the pretext, but 
the real cause of the rebellion, and both must go down to 
gether. It is vain to attempt to reconstruct the Union with 
the distracting element of Slavery in it. Experience has dem 
onstrated its incompatibility with free and republican govern 
ments, and it would be unwise and unjust longer to continue 
it as one of the institutions of the country. While it remained 
subordinate to the Constitution and laws of the United States, 
I yielded to it my support ; but when it became rebellious, and 
attempted to rise above the Government, and control its action, 
I threw my humble influence against it. 

"The authority of the Government is supreme, and will ad 
mit of no rivalry. No institution can rise above it, whether 


it be Slavery or any other organized power. In our happy 
form of government all must be subordinate to the will of the 
people, when reflected through the Constitution and laws 
made pursuant thereto State or Federal. This great prin 
ciple lies at the foundation of every government, and cannot 
be disregarded without the destruction of the government 
itself. In the support and practice of correct principles we 
can never reach wrong results ; and by rigorously adhering to 
this great fundamental truth, the end will be the preservation 
of the Union, and the overthrow of an institution which has 
made war upon, and attempted the destruction of the Govern 
ment itself. 

" The mode by which this great change the emancipation 
of the slave can be effected, is properly found in the power 
to amend the Constitution of the United States. This plan 
is effectual and of no doubtful authority ; and while it does 
not contravene the timely exercise of the war power by the 
President in his Emancipation Proclamation, it comes stamped 
with the authority of the people themselves, acting in accord 
ance with the written rule of the supreme law of the land, and 
must therefore give more general satisfaction and quietude to 
the distracted public mind. 

" By recurring to the principles contained in the resolutions 
so unanimously adopted by the Convention, I find that they 
substantially accord with my public acts and opinions hereto 
fore made known and expressed, and are therefore most cordi 
ally indorsed and approved, and the nomination, having been 
conferred without any solicitation on my part, is with the 
greater pleasure accepted. 

" In accepting the nomination I might here close, but I cannot 
forego the opportunity of saying to my old friends of the Demo 
cratic party proper, with whom I have so long and pleasantly 
been associated, that the hour has now come when that great 
party can justly vindicate its devotion to true Democratic 
policy and measures of expediency. The war is a war of 
great principles. It involves the supremacy and life of the 


Government itself. If the rebellion triumphs, free government 
North and South fails. If, on the other hand, the Gov 
ernment is successful, as I do not doubt, its destiny is 
fixed, its basis permanent and enduring, and its career of 
honor and glory just begun. In a great contest like this for 
the existence of free government, the path of duty is patriot 
ism and principle. Minor considerations and questions of 
administrative policy should give way to the higher duty of 
first preserving the Government ; and then there will be time 
enough to wrangle over the men and measures pertaining to 
its administration. 

" This is not the hour for strife and division among ourselves. 
Such differences of opinion only encourage the enemy, pro 
long the war, and waste the country. Unity of action and 
concentration of power should be our watchword and rallying 
cry. This accomplished, the time will rapidly approach when 
their armies in the field that great power of the rebellion 
will be broken and crushed by our gallant officers and brave 
soldiers ; and ere long they will return to their homes and fire 
sides to resume again the avocations of peace, with the proud 
consciousness that they have aided in the noble work of re 
establishing upon a surer and more permanent basis the great 
temple of American Freedom. 

"I am, gentlemen, with sentiments of high regard, 
" Yours, truly, 


On the 4tli_of_October ^Governor Johnson ad 
dressed a meeting at Logansport, Indiana, and on the 
24th of the same month spoke to the colored. people 
at Nashville, denouncing the arislacraQVj and prom 
ising that their "condition should be improved and 
their rights guaranteed and protected. This speech, 
and the circumstances attending it, are reported as 


follows, by a correspondent of the " Cincinnati Ga 
zette " : 

I have said the speech of Governor Johnson, delivered to 
the colored population of Nashville on Monday night, was one 
of the most remarkable to which it was ever my fortune to 
listen. The time, the place, the circumstances, the audience, 
the man, all combined to make a powerful impression upon a 
spectator s mind. 

The time was the fourth year of the rebellion, the eve of 
a great political contest which was to determine for all time 
whether freedom or slavery in America should be over 

The place was the proud city of the slaveholders, and im 
mediately in front of the haughty Capitol of Tennessee. 

The circumstances were such as exist only amid the throes 
and struggles of a mighty revolution. 

The audience were men and women who only three years 
ago were abject, miserable slaves, for whom there was appar 
ently no future and no hope. 

The man was he who in a few days was certain to be chosen 
to the second highest office within the gift of the American 

And this man, whose views and those of the President, soon 
to be rechosen, are known to be in exact accord, and who, 
from the position he holds, represents, more than any other 
man save Lincoln, the power and majesty of the Republic, 
this man, standing before that audience of trembling, crouch 
ing bondsmen, tore in pieces the last lingering excuse for 
outrage and wrong ; threw from him the dishonored and dis 
honorable fragments, and planting himself squarely upon the 
principles of justice and eternal right, declared that so far as 
he was concerned there should henceforth be no compromise 
with slavery anywhere ; but that the hour had come when 
worth and merit, without regard to color, should be the stand 
ard by which to judge the value of a man. 


Governor Johnson had already commenced speaking when 
I succeeded in forcing my way through the dense crowd of 
men and women who surrounded him, and stood within a few 
feet of him. I have said that he spoke from the steps leading 
up from the street (Cedar) to the State-House yard. Jn front 
the street was filled up by a mass of human beings, so closely 
compacted together that they seemed to compose one vast 
body, no part of which could move without moving the whole. 
The State-House yard itself, and the great stone wall which 
separates it from the street, were also thronged. Over this 
vast crowd the torches and transparencies, closely gathered 
together near the speaker, cast a ruddy glow ; and, as far as 
the light extended, the crowd could be seen stretching either 
way up and down the street. 

I had heard cheers and shouts long before I could distin 
guish the words of the speaker ; but when at last I succeeded 
in getting close to the spot where he stood, a dead silence 
prevailed, unbroken save by the speaker s voice. I listened 
closely, and these, as far as my memory serves me, were the 
Tponderful words : 

" COLORED MEN OF NASHVILLE, You have all heard of 
the President s Proclamation, by which he announced to the 
world that the slaves in a large portion of the seceded States 
were thenceforth and forever free. For certain reasons, which 
seemed wise to the President, the benefits of that Proclamation V 
did not extend to you or to your native State. Many of you 
consequently were left in bondage. The taskmaster s scourge 
was not yet broken, and the fetters still galled your limbs. 
Gradually this iniquity has been passing away ; but the hour 
has come when the last vestiges of it must be removed. Con 
sequently, I, too, without reference to the President or any\ 
other person, have a proclamation to make ; and, standing 
here upon the steps of the Capitol, with the past history of the 
State to witness, the present condition to guide, and its future 
to encourage me, I, Andrew Johnson^d^jiereby^rpclaim free 
dom, full, broad, and~uriconditional, to every man in Ten 
nessee!" "" 



It was one of those moments when the speaker seems in 
spired, and when his audience, catching the inspiration, rises 
to his level and becomes one with him. Strangely as some of 
the words of this immortal utterance sounded to those uncul 
tivated ears, I feel convinced that not one of them was misun 
derstood. With breathless attention those sons of bondage hung 
upon each syllable ; each individual seemed carved in stone 
until the last word of the grand climax was reached ; and then 
the scene which followed beggars all description. One simul 
taneous roar of approval and delight burst from three thousand 
throats. Flags, banners, torches, and transparencies were 
waved wildly over the throng, or flung aloft in the ecstasy of 
joy. Drums, fifes, and trumpets added to the uproar, and 
the mighty tumult of this great mass of human beings rejoic 
ing for their race, woke up the slumbering echoes of the cap- 
itol, vibrated throughout the length and breadth of the city, 
rolled over the sluggish waters of the Cumberland, and rang 
out far into the night beyond. 

I am not attempting to repeat the Governors speech. I 
had neither note-book nor pencil when I listened to him ; and 
if I had both of them I could not have used them in the 
midst of that closely wedged crowd. I wish only to describe a 
few of the points in his speech which made the deepest im 
pression on my mind. 

t Who has not heard of the great estate of Mack Cockrill, 
situated near the city of Nashville, an estate whose acres 
are numbered by the thousand, whose slaves were once counted 
by the score ? Mack Cockrill being a great slave-owner, was 
of course a leading rebel, and in the very wantonness of 
wealth, wrung from the sweat and toil and stolen wages of 
others, gave fabulous sums at the outset of the war to aid Jeff. 
Davis in overturning the Government. 

Who has not heard of the princely estates of Gen. W. D. 
Harding, who, by means of his property alone, outweighed in 
influence any other man in Tennessee, no matter what were 
that other s worth, or wisdom, or ability. Harding, too, early 


espoused the cause of treason, and made it his boast that he 
had contributed, and directly induced others to contribute, 
millions of dollars in aid of that unholy cause. 

These estates suggested to Governor Johnson one of the 
most forcible points of his speech : 

u I am no agrarian," said he. " I wish to see secured to 
every man, rich or poor, the fruits of his honest industry, ef 
fort, or toil. I want each man to feel that what he has gained 
by his own skill, or talent, or exertion, is rightfully ms, and 
his alone. But if, through an iniquitous system, a vast amount 
of wealth has been accumulated in the hands of one man, or 
a few men, then that result is wrong, and the sooner we can 
right it the better for all concerned. It is wrong that Mack 
Cockrill and W. D. Harding, by means of forced and unpaid 
labor, should have monopolized so large a share of the lands 
and wealth of Tennessee ; and I say if their immense planta 
tions were divided up and parcelled out amongst a number of 
free, industrious, and honest farmers, it would give more good 
citizens to the Commonwealth, increase the wages of our me 
chanics, enrich the markets of our city, enliven all the arteries 
of trade, improve society, and conduce to the greatness and 
glory of the State." 

And thus the Governor discussed the profoundest problems 
of politics and social life in the presence of the despised blacks 
of Nashville ; in their hearing denounced the grasping and 
bloated monopoly of their masters ; and used the overgrown 
estates of Harding and Cockrill to illustrate his doctrines, in 
the presence of Harding s and CockrilFs slaves. 

That portion of the Governor s speech in which he de 
scribed and denounced the aristocracy of Nashville, I cannot 
hope to render properly ; but there was one point which I 
must not overlook. 

" The representatives of this corrupt, (and if you will per 
mit me almost to swear a little,) this damnable aristocracy, 
taunt us with our desire to see justice done, and charge us 
with favoring negro equality. Of all living men they should 


be the last to mouth that phrase ; and, even when uttered in 
their hearing, it should cause their cheeks to tinge and burn 
with shame. Negro equality, indeed ! "Why, pass, any day, 
along the sidewalks of High Street where these aristocrats 
more particularly dwell, these aristocrats, whose sons are 
now in the bands of guerillas and cut-throats who prowl and 
rob and murder around our city, pass by their dwellings, I 
say, and you will see as many mulatto as negro children, the 
former bearing an unmistakable resemblance to their aristo 
cratic owners ! 

" Colored men of Tennessee ! This, too, shall cease ! Your 
wives and daughters shall no longer be dragged into a concu 
binage, compared to which polygamy is a virtue, to satisfy 
the brutal lusts of slaveholders and overseers ! Henceforth 
the sanctity of God s holy law of marriage shall be respected 
in your persons, and the great State of Tennessee shall no 
more give her sanction to your degradation and your shame !" 

" Thank God ! thank God ! " came from the lips of a thou 
sand women, who in their own persons had experienced the 
hellish iniquity of the man-seller s code. " Thank God ! " fer 
vently echoed the fathers, husbands, brothers of these women. 

" And if the law protects you in the possession of your 
wives and children, if the law shields those whom you hold 
dear from the unlawful grasp of lust, will you endeavor to be 
true to yourselves, and shun, as it were death itself, the path 
of lewdness, crime, and vice ? " 

" We will ! we willl" cried the assembled thousands; and 
joining in a sublime and tearful enthusiasm, another mighty 
shout went up to heaven. 

" Looking at this vast crowd of colored people," continued 
the Governor, " and reflecting through what a storm of perse 
cution and obloquy they are compelled to pass, I am almost 
induced to wish that, as in the days of old, a Moses might arise 
who should lead them safely to their promised land of freedom 
and happiness." 

* You are our Moses," shouted several voices, and the ex- 


clamation was caught up and cheered until the Capitol rung 

" God," continued the speaker, " no doubt has prepared 
somewhere an instrument for the great work he designs to per 
form in behalf of this outraged people, and in due time your 
leader will come forth ; your Moses will be revealed to you." 

k> We want no Moses but you ! " again shouted the crowd. 

" Well, then," replied the speaker, " humble and unworthy 
as I am, if no other better shall be found, I will indeed be 
your Moses, and lead you through the Red Sea of war and 
bondage to a fairer future of liberty and peace. I speak now 
as one who feels the world his country, and all who love 
equal rights his friends. I speak, too, as a citizen of Tennes 
see. I am here on my own soil ; and here I mean to stay and 
fight this great battle of truth and justice to a triumphant end. 
Rebellion and slavery shall, by God s good help, no longer 
pollute our State. Loyal men, whether white or black, shall 
alone control her destinies ; and when this strife in which we 
are all engaged is past, I trust, I know, we shall have a better 
state of things, and shall all rejoice that honest labor reaps 
the fruit of its own industry, and that every man has a fair 
chance in the race of life." 

It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm which followed 
these words. Joy beamed in every countenance. Tears and 
laughter followed each other in quick succession. The great 
throng moved and swayed back and forth in the intensity of 
emotion, and shout after shout rent the air. 

A man might have exchanged an ordinary immortality to 
have made such a speech to such an audience, and been much 
the gainer. 

It was a speech significant of one of the loftiest positions to 
which mankind, struggling upward toward universal freedom, 
has as yet attained. 

The great Tribune descended from the steps of the Capitol. 
As if by magic the dense throng parted to let him through. 
And all that night long his name was mingled with the curses 


and execrations of the traitor and oppressor, and with the 
blessings of the oppressed and poor. 

The result of the Presidential election on the 
14th of November, 1864, is well known. All of the 
States voting save three, gave immense majorities 
for Lincoln and Johnson, thus indorsing the former 
administration of Mr. Lincoln and promising renewed 
and continued support. 

On the 4th of March, 1865, the ceremonies of 
inauguration were performed at Washington, in 
the presence of an immense concourse of people. 
Vice-President Johnson was duly qualified, and 
assumed the duties of President of the Senate. 
The affairs of the nation were progressing in the 
most auspicious manner. The military operations 
of Generals Grant and Sherman attracted and 
absorbed the attention of the nation. President 
Lincoln, who was at the front with the Lieutenant- 
General, had sent despatch after despatch containing 
words of good cheer, culminating with the news of 
the evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg, and 
the occupation of those cities by the Federal troops. 
The country was wild with delight, and throughout 
the loyal States the people gathered together to give 
expression to their satisfaction. At the meeting 
in Washington on the 3d of April, Vice-President 
Johnson spoke as follows : 

"As I have been introduced, I will make one or two remarks, 
for I feel that no one would be justified in attempting to make 
an address on such an occasion, when the excitement is justly 
at so great a height. 


" We are now, my friends, winding up a rebellion, a great 
effort that has been made by bad men to overthrow the Govern 
ment of the United States, a Government founded upon free 
principles, and cemented by the best blood of the Revolution. 
[Cheers.] You must indulge me in making one single remark 
in connection with myself. At the time that the traitors in the 
Senate of the United States plotted against the Government, 
and entered into a conspiracy more foul, more execrable, and 
more odious than that of Catiline against the Romans, I 
happened to be a member of that body, and, as to loyalty 
stood solitary and alone among the Senators from the Southern 

" I was then and there called upon to know what I could do 
with such traitors, and I want to repeat my reply here. I 
said, if we had an Andrew Jackson he would hang them as 
high as Haman ; but as he is no more, and sleeps in his grave 
in his own beloved State, where traitors and treason have even 
insulted his tomb and the very earth that covers his remains, 
humble as I am, when you ask me what I would do, my reply 
is, I would arrest them I would try them I would convict 
them, and I would hang them. 

"As humble as I am and have been, I have pursued but one, 
undeviating course. All that I have life, limb, and property 
have been put at the disposal of the country in this great 
struggle. I have been in camp, I have been in the field, I 
have been everywhere where this great rebellion was ; I have 
pursued it until I believe I can now see its termination. Since 
the Avorld began, there never has been a rebellion of such 
gigantic proportions, so infamous in character, so diabolical in 
motive, so entirely disregardful of the laws of civilized war. It 
has introduced the most savage mode of warfare ever prac 
tised upon the earth. 

" I will repeat here a remark, for which I have been in no 
small degree censured. What is it, allow me to ask, that has 
sustained the nation in this great struggle ? The cry has been, 
you know, that our Government was not strong enough for a, 
time of rebellion ; that in such a time she would have to con- 


tend against internal weakness as well as internal foes. We 
have now given the world evidence that such is not the fact ; 
and when the rebellion shall have been crushed out, and the 
nation shall once again have settled down in peace, our Gov 
ernment will rest upon a more enduring basis than ever be 

" But, my friends, in what has the great strength of this Gov 
ernment consisted. Has it been in one-man power ? Has 
it been in some autocrat, or in some one man who held abso 
lute government ? No ! I thank God I have it in my power 
to proclaim the great truth, that this Government has derived 
its "strength from the American people. They have issued the 
edict ; they have exercised the power that has resulted in the 
overthrow of the rebellion, and there is not another govern 
ment upon the face of the earth that could have withstood the 

" We can now congratulate ourselves that we possess the 
strongest, the freest, and the best Government the world ever 
saw. Thank God that we have lived through this trial, and 
that, looking in your intelligent faces here to-day, I can an 
nounce to you the great fact that Petersburg, the outpost to 
the strong citadel, has been occupied by our brave and gallant 
officers and our untiring, invincible soldiers. And not content 
with that, they have captured the citadel itself, the strong 
hold of traitors. Richmond is ours, and is now occupied by 
the forces of the United States ! Her gates have been en 
tered, and the glorious Stars and Stripes, the emblem of 
Union, of power, and of supremacy, now float over the enemy s 
capitol ! 

" In the language of another, let that old flag rise higher and 
higher, until it meets the sun in his coming, and let the parting 
day linger to play upon its ample folds. It is the flag of your 
country, it is your flag, it is my flag, and it bids defiance to all 
the nations of the earth, and the encroachments of all the 
powers combined. It is not my intention to make any im 
prudent remarks or allusions, but the hour will come when 
those nations that exhibited toward us such insolence and 


improper interference in the midst of our adversity, and, as 
they supposed, of our weakness, will learn that this is a Gov 
ernment of the people possessing power enough to make itself 
felt and respected. 

" In the midst of our rejoicing, we must not forget to drop 
a tear for those gallant fellows who have shed their blood that 
their Government must triumph. We cannot forget them 
when we view the many bloody battle-fields of the war, the 
new-made graves, our maimed friends and relatives, who have 
left their limbs, as it were, on the enemy s soil, and others 
who have been consigned to their long narrow houses, with 
no winding-sheet save their blankets saturated with their 

" One word more, and I have done. It is this : I am in favor 
of leniency ; but, in my opinion, evil-doers should be punished. 
[Cries of That s so. ] Treason is the highest crime known 
in the catalogue of crimes, and for him that is guilty of it 
for him that is willing to lift his impious hand against the au 
thority of the nation I would say death is too easy a pun 
ishment. My notion is that treason must be made odious 
and traitors must be punished and impoverished, their social 
power broken, though they must be made to feel the penalty 
of their crime. You, my friends, have traitors in your very 
midst, and treason needs rebuke and punishment here as well 
as elsewhere. It is not the men in the field who are the 
greatest traitors. It is the men who have encouraged them to 
imperil their lives, while they themselves have remained at 
home, expending their means and exerting all their power to 
overthrow the Government. Hence I say this : The halter 
to intelligent, influential traitors/ But to the honest boy, to 
the deluded man, who has been deceived into the rebel ranks, 
I would extend leniency ; I would say, Return to your alle 
giance, renew your support to the Government, and become a 
good citizen ; but the leaders I would hang. I hold, too, that 
wealthy traitors should be made to remunerate those men who 
have suffered as a consequence of their crime, Union men 
who have lost their property, who have been driven from their 


homes, beggars and wanderers among strangers. It is well to 
talk about these things here to-day, in addressing the well- 
informed persons who compose this audience. You can, to a 
very great extent, aid in moulding public opinion, and in giv 
ing it a proper direction. Let us commence the work. We 
have put down these traitors in arms ; let us put them down in 
law, in public judgment, and in the morals of the world." 

The fall of Richmond was followed by the sur 
render of Lee s army on the 9th of Ajml. Five 
days after, on the evening of the 14th, the bullet 
of the assassin struck down the head of the Na 
tion, but it did not still the pulsations of its heart 
nor paralyze the action of its limbs. As the 
dreadful intelligence flashed over the electric wire, 
throughout the length and breadth of the land, the 
whole country stood for a moment, speechless and 
breathless, appalled by the dastardly outrage. The 
first thought of the Nation was for the safety of its 
Government. Self-perpetuating, the Government 
received, but scarcely felt, a shock which would 
have overthrown the dynasties of the Old World. 
The wires were yet trembling with the burden of 
the sad message, " Abraham Lincoln died this morn 
ing at twenty-two minutes after seven o clock." when 
they were again called to proclaim that " Andrew 
Johnson was sworn into office as President of the 
United States, by Chief Justice Chase, to-day at 
eleven o clock." 

The formal ceremonies were brief but dignified, 
promptly performed, but invested with an unusual 
solemnity by the sad event which had rendered 


them necessary. Immediately on the death of 
President Lincoln, Hon. James Speed, Attorney- 
General of the United States, waited upon Vice- 
President Johnson with the following official com 
munication : 

" WASHINGTON CITY, April 15, 1865. 
" ANDREW JOHNSON, Vice-President of the United States. 

" SIR, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United 
States, was shot by an assassin last evening at Ford s Theatre, 
in this city, and died at the hour of twenty-two minutes after 
seven o clock. About the same time at which the President 
was shot, an assassin entered the sick chamber of Hon. W. H. 
Seward, Secretary of State, and stabbed him in several places 
in the throat, neck, and face, severely, if no tmortally, wound 
ing him. Other members of the Secretary s family were dan 
gerously wounded by the assassin, while making his escape. 

" By the death of President Lincoln the office of President 
has devolved, under the Constitution, upon you. The emer 
gency of the Government demands that you should immedi 
ately qualify according to the requirements of the Constitution, 
and enter upon the duties of President of the United States. 
If you will please make known your pleasure, such arrange 
ments as you deem proper will be made. 

" Your obedient servants, 

" HUGH McCuLLOCH, Secretary of the Treasury; ED 
WIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War; GIDEON 
WELLES, Secretary of the Navy; WILLIAM DEN- 
NISON, Postmaster- General; J. P. USHER, Secre 
tary of the Interior; JAMES SPEED, Attorney- 

Mr. Johnson suggested ten o clock as the hour, 
and his apartments at the Kirkwood House as the 
place, where, at the hour designated, the ceremony 
was performed. 


After the oath had been administered, President 
Johnson delivered the following address : 


"GENTLEMEN, I must be permitted to say that I have 
been almost overwhelmed by the announcement of the sad 
event which has so recently occurred. I feel incompetent to 
perform duties so important and responsible as those which 
have been so unexpectedly thrown upon me. As to an in 
dication of any policy which may be pursued by me in the 
administration of the Government, I have to say, that that 
must be left for development as the administration progresses. 
The message or declaration must be made by the acts as they 
transpire. The only assurance that I can now give of the 
future, is by reference to the past. The course which I have 
taken in the past, in connection with this rebellion, must be 
regarded as a guarantee of the future. My past public life, 
which has been long and laborious, has been founded, as I in 
good conscience believe, upon a great principle of right, which 
lies at the basis of all things. The best energies of my life 
have been spent in endeavoring to establish and perpetuate 
the principles of free government, and I believe that the 
Government, in passing through its present trials, will settle 
down upon principles consonant with popular rights more 
permanent and enduring than heretofore. I must be permit 
ted to say, if I understand the feelings of my own heart, I 
have long labored to ameliorate and alleviate the condition of 
the great mass of the American people. Toil, and an honest 
advocacy of the great principles of free government, have 
been my lot. The duties have been mine the consequences 
are God s. This has been the foundation of my political 
creed. I feel that in the end the Government will triumph, 
and that these great principles will be permanently established. 

In conclusion, gentlemen, let me say that I want your en 
couragement and countenance. I shall ask and rely upon you 
and others in carrying the Government through its present 
perils. I feel, in making this request, that it will be heartily 
responded to by you, and all other patriots and lovers of the 
rights and interests of a free people." 


STATES, AUGUST 2, 1848. 

MR. CHAIRMAN : I have for some days 
attempted to obtain possession of the floor when 
the House has been in Committee of the Whole 
on the state of the Union, and having at length 
succeeded, I may not confine myself to the pending 
question, but diverge to others of a more general 
character, as other gentlemen have done who have 
preceded me in debate. I make the admission 
frankly that I shall introduce some general topics of 
discussion in the course of my argument, if anything 
that I shall say may be dignified with the appella 
tion of an argument. However, as an hour is but 
a very limited time in which to speak on such varied 
and important questions as present themselves to my 
mind, I shall directly address myself to those ques 
tions, and if I cannot embody all my views, I may 
be able to present the outline, the bones, the general 
contour of those subjects, and leave to those who 
may feel sufficient interest in them to listen to my 
remarks to fill up the outlines and clothe the bones 
with suitable muscles and flesh. 

For the last two or three days, and I may say 

2; ; ; ;/, THE SPEECHES 

weeks, the more immediate subjects of discussion 
have been twofold. The first was the veto-power ; 
and the next was the origin, progress, and conse 
quences of the war with Mexico. To these ques 
tions, then, I shall confine myself. And, in relation 
to the veto-power, I confess I feel great diffidence 
in approaching a subject of so much importance ; 
for at one period of my life I entertained some 
doubts as to the exercise of the veto-power myself. 
But from the most thorough investigation, I have 
become entirely satisfied as to the propriety of the 
creation and establishment of this power by the 

In the discussion of the veto-power, and tracing 
it from its origin to the present time, I may be 
charged with something of ultraism ; for, upon a 
more complete examination, I find it to be of plebeian 

Where did the veto-power originate ? It was 
established to enable the people to resist and repel 
encroachments on their rights. The veto-power had 
its origin in old Rome 3507 Anno Mundi ; and be 
fore Christ 497 ; and from the building of the city 
of Rome 255 ; which would make, since its origin, 
2345 years. These dates will show that the people 
of Rome had been submitting to gradual encroach 
ments two hundred and fifty-five years, until further 
submission was insupportable. At this period the 
levies and laws of the Roman Senate were so enor 
mous and oppressive that the people were compelled 


to employ means to resist their further encroach 
ment. The people en masse retired to a mountain 
three miles distant from Rome, called Monsacer, 
and were there addressed by Junius Lucius and 
Sicinius Bellerus with masculine eloquence, 
always the child of nature, which induced the 
people to compel the Roman Senate to yield the 
power to them to establish five tribunes from among 
themselves, which, in process of time, were increased 
to ten, who should be clothed with the veto-power. 
These tribunes were placed at the Senate-door, and 
all laws passed by the Roman Senate were pre 
sented to them for their approval or rejection. If 
they approved a law, it was signed with the letter 
T ; but if not approved, they used the word veto, 
which signifies u I forbid." This is the origin of 
the veto-power ; and so long as it was exercised by 
tribunes or officers immediately responsible to the 
people for their election or appointment, the end 
that the people designed was successfully accom 
plished that is, resistance to encroachments on 
their rights. And so long as this power w r as pre 
served in its original purity and simplicity, it was 
exercised to the advancement of the people s rights 
and interests. 

Augustus, 706 years from the building of the city 
of Rome, or four hundred and fifty-one years after 
the establishment of the. veto-power by the people, 
so managed as to have the power in practice con 
ferred upon himself; and here is the first union of 


the veto-power and royalty. The tribunes were still 
elected, and existed nominally, but in fact they ex 
ercised no tribunitian power. The tribunes, in fact, 
continued to exist until the reign of Constantine, 
which was nine hundred and thirty-three years from 
the building of the city, or six hundred and seventy- 
eight years from the creation of the veto, when the 
office of tribune was completely merged in royalty, 
and abolished. 

We may now pass on from this period of time to 
the exercise of the veto-power in modern Europe ; 
and, from the days of Augustus, we shall see that the 
exercise of this power has passed to the opposite end 
of the line, that is, from the people to the Crown. 

In England, by a resolution of parliament, this 
power was conferred upon the King, and has not 
been exercised by him since 1692, which makes one 
hundred and fifty-six years ; and from this an argu 
ment is drawn to prove that even the King of Eng 
land is afraid to exercise the veto-power, and there 
fore it is dangerous, and should never be exercised 
in a democracy or a republic. 

The King of England is not immediately respon 
sible to the people for the exercise of this power, or 
responsible to them for the position he holds. He 
ascends the throne in the course of hereditary suc 
cession ; and, when the power is exercised by him, 
in most instances it is to resist popular will, instead 
of carrying it out; hence the great fear of exercising 
the veto-power in England, lest the popular will 


should become so strono- that it would overturn the 


throne ; and consequently the King resorts to the 
liberal bestowment of the immense patronage at his 
disposal to defeat those measures, on their passage, 
which would require the exercise of the veto-power, 
as necessary to protect the other prerogatives of the 

The Constituent Assembly of France conferred 
the veto-power on the King in 1789, but the very 
first exercise of it proved his ruin ; it was in opposi 
tion to popular will, and in protection of the pre 
rogatives of the Crown. The same power was also 
vested with the King of Norway, and in this in 
stance it was exercised twice to sustain the family 
upon the throne, until at last the popular will be 
came so strono- that it resulted in his overthrow. 


I might go into detail, or more at length, in the 
cases enumerated, and even refer to others, but time 
will not permit. 

I w r ill now pass to a point of time when this power 
returns to its original source, the people. 

The patriots and sages of the Revolution, who 
were perfectly familiar with the veto-power as it 
existed in the colonies and the mother-country, 
after effecting our separation from Great Britain, 
were called upon to form a Constitution, and in that 
Constitution we find the veto-power established, 
and to be exercised by the people. This Consti 
tution was submitted to the States, and, after mature 
and deliberate consideration by them, it was adopted, 


On the 4tli of March, 1789, George Washington, 
the father of his country, delegate to and president 
of the Convention that framed the Constitution, was 
inaugurated President of the United States, and, for 
the first time under the Constitution, the veto-power 
was exercised, or, according to our opponents of 
this day, the " one-man " or " despotic power, " and 
that, too, upon the ground of convenience and econ 
omy, and the second time upon constitutional 
grounds. And in this connection, although Mr. 
Jefferson never exercised the power while Presi 
dent, we can adduce proof which shows that he 
approved of the incorporation of the power into our 
Constitution, and of its exercise afterwards. In his 
letter to Mr. Madison, written when he was in 
Paris, dated December 20, 1787, he takes decided 
ground in favor of the veto. 

In his opinion, as written out whilst Secretary of 
State during General Washington s administration, 
he urged its exercise, upon the ground that its 
omission might be construed into a non-user, or 
an official negligence. We find, then, that these 
two men, whose patriotism and purity of purpose 
no mortal man can doubt, were in favor of the 
veto-power, as established in the Constitution. 

James Madison, the third Republican President, 
and, as he is called by some, " the great Apostle of 
Liberty," who was a member of the Convention 
that framed the great chart of American liberty, 
and afterwards President of the United States, and 


that, too, while all was fresh and green on his 
memory of the oppressions and outrages that had 
been committed by the British Government, under 
every pretence whatever, exercised this power six 
times daring his eight years administration. 

Next, we come to Mr. Monroe ; and, during his 
administration, it will be remembered that it was 
called " the era of good-will and conciliation of all 
parties " ; who, it may be said, came into power 
almost without opposition, and under whose ad 
ministration parties were almost merged, a man 
that no one will charge w T ith possessing the first 
element of the tyrant or the despot, and of whom 
it might be said, that he was a war-hating and 
peace-loving man ; he ventured to exercise this 
power once. 

We then pass over Mr. J. Q. Adams s adminis 
tration to that of Andrew Jackson ; and, notwith 
standing he has been denounced as arbitrary and 
tyrannical, that his will was iron and his nerves 
were steel, even he, in the use of this power, 
always exercised it in defence of the people s inter 
ests, and in resisting encroachments on their rights. 
By this man it was exercised nine times, and the 
people said, " Well done, thou good and faithful 

We will pass by the administration of Mr. Van 
Buren to that of John Tyler, called by some but 
not by me in derision, " the Accidency Presi 
dent," who exercised this power four times ; and 


under his administration is the only instance in 
which a law was passed over a veto, by two thirds 
of the two Houses of Congress, since the origin of 
the government, and that an unimportant law. 
Next comes Mr. Folk s administration, and since 
he came into power it has been exercised three 

Thus it will be seen, that from the origin of the 
government to the present time this power has 
been exercised twenty-five times. The whole num 
ber of laws passed, from the organization of the 
government, and approved, is about seven thou 
sand ; which would make one veto to every two 
hundred and eighty acts, a very small propor 
tion ; and I think I may appeal with confidence to 
all those who are conversant with legislation here, 
whether it would not have been better for the peo 
ple and the country if five thousand out of the 
seven thousand had been vetoed. I have been thus 
particular in giving the origin and exercise of the 
veto-power to prove, that whenever it has been 
exercised in compliance with the popular will, by a 
tribune or president, or by any other name you may 
think proper to give him, so that he is immediately 
responsible to the people, it operates well. And to 
show further, that whenever this power is retained 
in the hands of the people, men entertaining certain 
principles, without any regard to their party name, 
make war upon this power when at this end of the 
line ; but whenever it is transferred to the other 


end, and placed in the hands of irresponsible per 
sons, they become its defenders and advocates. 
And this brings me up directly to one of the issues 
between the parties in this government. 

By an examination of the Constitution, we find 
the veto-power lodged in another department of the 
government, as well as with the Executives ; and 
that department is irresponsible to the people. I 
mean that the Judiciary, who are appointed to 
office during life, or, tantamount thereto, dur 
ing good behavior, exercise the veto-power abso 
lutely. They are men, and subject to all the prej 
udices and influences of other men, according to 
their construction of the Constitution. They can 
veto every act of Congress, after its approval by the 
President, and that veto is final. But against the 
exercise of this power by this department of the 
government the Federal party make no complaint; 
but think it a perfectly safe place for the lodg 
ment of the power, as it is beyond the reach of 
the people ; which will at once show to every 
reflecting and intelligent mind the sincerity of 
the Opposition in making war on the exercise of 
the veto-power, when exercised by that department 
of the Government immediately responsible to the 

I cannot, Mr. Chairman, though pressed for time, 

dismiss the subject without noticing the figure or 

simile of the snag-boat used by the gentleman from 

Ohio. 1 In this illustration he represents the Con- 

1 Mr. Schenck. 


stitution as the Mississippi, and the veto-power 
as a " snag " ; and he comes forward making great 
preparation with his snag-boat, throwing out his 
grappling-irons, raising the steam, the wheels revolv 
ing, determined to extract this principle, the veto, 
from the Constitution. 

Tliis is an illustration of what I have just before 
said, that where the people, either directly or indi 
rectly, can exert their power through the Constitu 
tion by an officer chosen by themselves, the snag- 
boat of Federal power is brought forward to tear it 
out by the roots. But I do not look upon the veto 
power as a " snag " on the Mississippi, to obstruct 
the navigation to our commerce ; but as a break 
water, to use the figure, placed on the people s sea 
or Constitution, to arrest the mighty current of Fed 
eral power, heavily setting in, or to break the dash 
ing waves of encroachments upon their liberties and 
their interests. The veto, as exercised by the Ex 
ecutives, is conservative, and enables the people, 
through their tribunitian officer, the President, to 
arrest or suspend for the time being unconstitutional, 
hasty, and improvident legislation, until the people, 
the sovereigns in this country, have time and oppor 
tunity to consider of its propriety. But the member 
from Ohio seems determined to tear out that portion 
of the Constitution where the people can be heard 
and felt. 

But in that other department of government 
where they have no voice, they are compelled to 


submit to its absolute exercise, unless they resort to 
a revolution or to an amendment of the Constitution. 

For myself, I will take the instrument as it is 
handed down by Washington and his compeers ; 
and if it is tyranny to exercise this power as it has 
been, approved by every Republican President 
from Washington s inauguration down to the pres 
ent time, not even excepting General Harrison, 
who was brought into power by the Whigs, out of 
that chaotic state of things which existed in 1840, 
I am willing to abide by it, and await the ultimate 
decision of the people on the subject. If the gen 
tleman from Ohio could succeed with his Federal 
snag-boat in extracting the people s power, the veto, 
from the Constitution, the harmony of our beautiful 
though complex form of government would be lost, 
the equilibrium would be gone, and some of the 
departments would absorb the others, or become 
liquids, and result in the concentration of all power 
in one department. 

Time will not permit, if I were disposed and 
capable, of going into an analysis of the power of 
this Government. I have not the time to take it 
down and examine each element, and then set it up 
again. I must content myself with what I have 
hastily and crudely said, and pass on to the next 
proposition I propose to discuss. 




The Senate having under consideration the bill to grant to 
any person who is the head of a family, and a citizen of the 
United States, a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres of 
land out of the public domain," upon the condition of occu 
pancy and cultivation of the same for the period of five years, 
MR. JOHNSON said : 

MR. PRESIDENT : The immediate proposition 
before the Senate is an amendment offered by 
the honorable Senator from North Carolina, 1 
which provides that there shall be a land-warrant 
issued to each head of a family, by the Secre 
tary of the Interior, and distributed among those 
who do not emigrate to the public domain and take 
possession of and cultivate the land for the term of 
years specified in the bill. I have something to say 
in reference to that amendment, but I will not say 
it in this connection. I will take it up in its order. 
I propose, in the first place, to explain briefly the 
provisions of the bill. 

The first section provides for granting one hun 
dred and sixty acres of land to every head of a 
family who will emigrate to any of the public do- 

1 Mr. Clingman. 


main and settle upon it, and cultivate it for a term 
of five years. Upon those facts being made known 
to the register of the land-office, the emigrant is to be 
entitled to obtain a patent. The second section pro 
vides that he shall make an affidavit, and show to the 
satisfaction of the officer that his entry is made in 
good faith, and that his intention is to cultivate the 
soil and become an actual settler. The sixth section 
of the bill provides that any person who is now an 
inhabitant of the United States, but not a citizen, if 
he makes application, and in the course of five years 
becomes a citizen of the United States, shall be 
placed on a footing of equality with the native-born 
citizens of the country in this respect. The third 
section provides that those entries shall be confined 
to land that has been in market, and subjected to 
private entry ; and that the persons entering the land 
shall be confined to each alternate section. 

These are substantially the leading provisions of 
this bill. It does not proceed upon the idea, as 
some suppose, of making a donation or gift of the 
public land to the settler. It proceeds upon the 
principle of consideration ; and I conceive, and I 
think many others do, that the individual who 
emigrates to the West, and reclaims and reduces to 
cultivation one hundred and sixty acres of the public 
domain, subjecting himself to all the privations and 
hardships of such a life, pays the highest considera 
tion for his land. 

But, before I say more on this portion of the 


subject, I desire to premise a little by giving the 
history of this homestead proposition. Some per 
sons from my own region of the country, or, in 
other words, from the South, have thrown out the 
intimation that this is a proposition which partakes, 
to some extent, of the nature of the Emigrant Aid 
Society, and is to operate injuriously to the Southern 
States. For the purpose of making the starting- 
point right, I want to go back and show when this 
proposition was first introduced into the Congress 
of the United States. I am not sure but that the 
Presiding Officer 1 remembers well the history of 
this measure. 

In 1846, on the 27th day of March, long before 
we had any emigrant aid societies, long before we 
had the compromises of 1850 in reference to the 
slavery question, long before we had any agitation 
on the subject of slavery in 1854, long before we 
had any agitation upon it in 1858, this proposition 
made its advent into the House of Representatives. 
It met with considerable opposition. It scarcely 
received serious consideration for a length of time ; 
but the measure was pressed until the public mind 
took hold of it ; and it was still pressed until the 
12th day of May, 1852, when it passed that body 
by a two-thirds vote. Thus we see that its origin 
and its consummation, so far as the House of 
Representatives was concerned, had nothing to do 
with North or South, but proceeded upon that 
1 Mr. Foot of Vermont in the chair. 


great principle which interests every man in this 
country, and which, in the end, secures and pro 
vides for him a home. By putting these dates 
together, it will be perceived that it was just six 
years five months and fifteen days from the introduc 
tion of this bill until its passage by the House of 

I shall not detain the Senate by any lengthy re 
marks on the general principles of the bill ; for I do 
not intend to be prolix, or to consume much of the 
Senate s time. What is the origin of the great idea 
of a homestead of land ? We find, on turning to 
the first law-writer, and I think one of the best, 
for we are informed that he wrote by inspiration, 
that he advances the first idea on this subject. 
Moses made use of the followins language : 

o o o 

" The land shall not be sold forever ; for the land is mine 
for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." Leviticus, 
chapter xxv. verse 23. 

We begin, then, with Moses. The next writer 
to whom I will call the attention of the Senate is 
Vattel one of the ablest, if not the ablest writer 
upon the laws of nations. He lays down this great 
principle : l 

" Of all the arts, tillage or agriculture is the most useful and 
necessary. It is the nursing-father of the State. The culti 
vation of the earth causes it to produce an infinite increase ; 
it forms the surest resource, and the most solid fund of rich 
commerce for the people who enjoy a happy climate. 

" This affair, then, deserves the utmost attention from gov- 

1 Vattel, Book I. ch. 7. 


ernment. The sovereign ought to neglect no means of 
rendering the land under his obedience as well cultivated as 
possible. Pie ought not to allow either communities or private 
persons to acquire large tracts of land to leave uncultivated. 
These rights of common, which deprive the proprietor of the 
free liberty of disposing of his lands, that will not allow him 
to farm them, and cause them to be cultivated in the most 
advantageous manner, these rights, I say, are contrary to the 
welfare of the state, and ought to be suppressed or reduced to 
a just bound. The property introduced among the citizens 
does not prevent the nation s having a right to take the most 
effectual measures to cause the whole country to produce the 
greatest and most advantageous revenue possible. 

" The government ought carefully to avoid everything 
capable of discouraging husbandmen, or of diverting them 
from the labors of agriculture. Those taxes, those excessive 
and ill-proportioned impositions, the burden of which falls 
almost entirely upon the cultivators, and the vexations they 
suffer from the commissioners who levy them, take from the 
unhappy peasant the means of cultivating the earth, and 
depopulate the country. Spain is the most fertile, and the 
worst cultivated country in Europe. The Church possesses 
too much land, and the undertakers of royal magazines, who 
are authorized to purchase at low prices all the corn they find 
in possession of a peasant, above what is necessary for the sub 
sistence of his wife and family, so greatly discourage the 
husbandman, that he sows no more corn than is necessary for 
the support of his own household. Whence arises the greatest 
scarcity in a country capable of feeding its neighbors. 

"Another abuse injurious to agriculture is, the contempt 
cast upon husbandmen. The inhabitants of cities, even the 
most servile artist and the most lazy citizen, consider him 
who cultivates the soil with a disdainful eye ; they humble and 
discourage him ; they dare to despise a profession that feeds the 
human race the natural employment of man. A stay-maker 
places far beneath him the beloved employment of the first 
consuls and dictators of Rome. 


" China lias wisely prevented this abuse. Agriculture is 
there held in honor ; and to preserve this happy manner of 
thinking, every year, on a solemn day, the Emperor himself, 
followed by the whole court, sets his hands to the plow and 
sows a small piece of land. Hence China is the best cultivated 
country in the world. It nourishes an innumerable multitude 
of people that at first appears to the traveller too great for the 
space they possess. 

" The cultivation of the soil is not only to be recommended 
by the government on account of the extraordinary advan 
tages that flow from it, but from its being an obligation im 
posed by nature on mankind. The whole earth is appointed 
for the nourishment of its inhabitants, but it would be incapa 
ble of doing it was it uncultivated. Every nation is then 
obliged by a law of nature to cultivate the ground that has 
fallen to its share, and it has no right to expect or require 
assistance from others, any further than the land in its pos 
session is incapable of furnishing it with necessaries. Those 
people, like the ancient Germans and modern Tartars, who, 
having fertile countries, disdain to cultivate the earth, and 
rather choose to live by rapine, are wanting to themselves, and 
deserve to be exterminated as savage and rapacious beasts. 
There are others who avoid agriculture, who would only live 
by hunting and flocks. This might doubtless be allowed in 
the first ages of the world, when the earth produced more than 
was sufficient to feed its few inhabitants; but at present, when 
the human race is so greatly multiplied, it would not subsist if 
all nations resolved to live in this manner. Those who still 
retain this idle life, usurp more extensive territories than they 
would have occasion for were they to use honest labor, and 
have, therefore, no reason to complain if other nations, more 
laborious and too closely confined, come to possess a part. 
Thus, though the conquest of the civilized empires of Peru 
and Mexico was a notorious usurpation, the establishment 
of many colonies in North America may, on their confining 
themselves within just bounds, be extremely lawful. The 


people of those vast countries rather overran than inhabited 

I propose next to cite the authority of General 
Jackson, who was believed to be not only a friend 
to the South but a friend to the Union. He 
inculcated this great doctrine in his message of 


" It cannot be doubted that the speedy settlement of those 
lands constitutes the true interest of the Republic. The wealth 
and strength of a country are its population, and the best part 
of the population are cultivators of the soil. Independent 
farmers are everywhere the basis of society, and the true 
friends of liberty." 

" It seems to me to be our true policy that the public lands 
shall cease, as soon as practicable, to be a source of revenue ; 
and that they be sold to settlers in limited parcels, at prices 
barely sufficient to reimburse the United States the expense 
of the present system, and the cost arising from our Indian 

" It is desirable, however, that the right of the soil, and the 
future disposition of it, be surrendered to the States respect 
ively in which it lies. 

" The adventurous and hardy population of the West, be 
sides contributing their equal share of taxation under the 
impost system, have, in the progress of our Government, for 
the lands they occupy, paid into the treasury a large propor 
tion of forty million dollars, and of the revenue received there 
from but a small portion has been expended among them. 
When, to the disadvantage of their situation in this respect, 
we add the consideration that it is their labor alone that gives 
real value to the lands, and that the proceeds arising from 
these sales are chiefly distributed among States that had not 
originally any claim to them, and which have enjoyed the un 
divided emoluments arising from the sales of their own lands, 


it cannot be expected that the new States will remain longer 
contented with the present policy, after the payment of the 
public debt. To avert the consequences which may be appre 
hended from this cause, to stop forever all partial and inter 
ested legislation on this subject, and to afford every American 
citizen of enterprise the opportunity of securing an inde 
pendent freehold, it seems to me, therefore, best to abandon 
the idea of raising a future revenue out of the public lands." 

Tims we have standing before us, in advocacy of 
this great principle, the first writer of laws, Moses ; 
next we have Vattel ; and in the third place we 
have General Jackson. 

Now, let us see whether there has been any 
homestead policy in the United States. By turn 
ing to our statutes, we find that the first Homestead 
Bill ever introduced into the Congress of the United 


States was in 1791. I know that it is said by 
some, and it is sometimes cantingly and slurringly 
reiterated in the newspapers, that this is a dema 
gogical movement, and that some person has intro 
duced and advocates this policy purely for the pur 
pose of pleasing the people. I want to see who 
some of these demagogues are ; and, before I read 
the section of this statute, I will refer, in connection 
with Jackson and these other distinguished indi 
viduals, to the fact that Mr. Jefferson, the philos 
opher and statesman, recognized and appreciated 
this great doctrine. In 1791, the first bill passed by 
the Congress of the United States recoo-nizins tlfe 

^ O O 

homestead principle, is in the following words : 
" That four hundred acres of land be given " 


that is the language of the statute. We do not 
assume in this bill to give land. We assume that 
a consideration passes ; but here was a law that 
was based on the idea that four hundred acres of 
land were to be given 

" to each of those persons who, in the year 1 783, were heads 
of families at Yincennes, or the Illinois country, or the Missis 
sippi, and who, since that time, have removed from one of the 
said places to the other ; but the Governor of the Territory 
northwest of the Ohio is hereby directed to cause the same to 
be laid out for them at their own expense," &c. 

Another section of the same act provides, 

" That the heads of families at Vincennes, or in the Illinois 
country, in the year 1 783, who afterwards removed without 
the limits of said Territory, are nevertheless entitled to the 
donation of four hundred acres of land made by the resolve 
of Congress," &c. 

That act recognized the principle embraced in 
the Homestead Bill. If this is the idea of a dema 
gogue, if it is the idea of one catering or pandering 
to the public sentiment to catch votes, it was intro 
duced into Congress in 1791, and received the 
approval of Washington, the father of his country. 
I presume that if he lived at this day, and were to 
approve the measure, as he did in 1791, he would 
be branded, and put in the category of those per 
sons who are denominated demagogues. Under his 
administration there was another bill passed of a 
similar import, recognizing and carrying out the 
great homestead principle. Thus we find that this 


policy, so far as legislation is concerned, commenced 
with Washington, and received his approval as 
early as 1791. From General Washington s ad 
ministration there are forty-four precedents running 
through everv administration of this Government, 
down to the present time, in which this principle 
has been recognized and indorsed. 

We discover from this historical review that this 
is no new idea, that it is no recent invention, that 
it is no new movement for the purpose of making 
votes ; but it is a principle wellnigh as old as the 
Government itself, which was indorsed and ap 
proved by Washington himself. 

This would seem, Mr. President, to settle the 
question of power. I know it has been argued by 
some that Congress had not the power to make 
donations of land ; but even the statute, to which I 
have referred, makes use of the word " give " with 
out consideration. It was considered constitutional 
by the early fathers to give away land. We pro 
ceed in this bill upon the principle that there is a 
consideration. If I were disposed to look for prec 
edents, even for the donations of the public lands, 
I could instance the bounty-land act, I could take 
you through other acts donating land, showing that 
the principle has been recognized again and again, 
and that there is not now a question as to its con 

I believe there is a clear difference in the power 
of the Federal Government in reference to its ap- 


propriatlons of money and its appropriations of the 
public land. The Congress of the United States 
has power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, 
and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the 
common defence and general welfare. I believe it 
has the power to lay and collect duties for these 
legitimate purposes ; but when taxes have been laid, 
collected, and paid into the treasury, I do not 
think it has that general scope or that latitude in 
the appropriation of money that it has over the 
public lands. Once converted into revenue, Con 
gress can only appropriate the revenue to the spe 
cific objects of the Constitution. It may derive 
revenue from the public lands, and being revenue, 
it can only be appropriated to the purposes for 
which revenue is raised under the Constitution. 

But when we turn to another provision of the 
Constitution, we find that Congress has power " to 
dispose of and make all needful rules and regula 
tions respecting the territory or other property be 
longing to the United States." Congress has, in 
the organization of all the Territories and in the 
admission of new States, recognized most clearly 
the principle of appropriating the public lands for 
the benefit of schools, colleges, and academies. It 
has granted the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections 
in every township for school purposes ; it has 
granted lands for public buildings and various other 
improvements. I am very clear on this point, that 
in the disposition of the public lands they should be 


applied to national purposes. If we grant the pub 
lic lands to actual settlers, so as to induce them to 
settle upon and cultivate them, can there be any 
thing more national in its character ? What is the 


great object of acquiring territory ? Is it not for 
settlement and cultivation ? We may acquire ter 
ritory by the exercise of the treaty-making power. 
We may be engaged in a war, and as terms or 
conditions of peace we may make large acquisi 
tions of territory to the United States. But what 
is the great idea and principle on which you ac 
quire territory ? Is it not to settle and cultivate it ? 
I am aware that the argument is used, if you 
can dispose of the public lands for this purpose or 
that purpose, cannot you sell the public lands and 
apply the proceeds to the same purpose ? I think 
there is a clear distinction between the two cases. 
It is equally clear to me that, if the Federal Gov 
ernment can set apart the public lands for school 
purposes in the new States, it can appropriate lands 
to enable the parent to sustain his child whilst en 
joying the benefits conferred upon him by the Gov 
ernment in the shape of education. The argument 
is as sound in the one case as it is in the other. If we 
can grant lands in the one case, we can in the other. 
If, without making a contract in advance, you can 
grant your public lands as gratuities, as donations 
to men who go out and fight the battles of their 
country, after the services have been rendered, is 
it not strange, passing strange, that you cannot 


grant land to those who till the soil and make pro 
vision to sustain your army while it is fighting the 
battles of the country ? It seems to me that the 
argument is clear. I do not intend to argue the 
constitutional question, for I think there can be 
really no doubt on that point. I do not believe 
any one at this day will seriously make any point 
on that ground against this bill. Is its purpose a 
national one? The great object is to induce per 
sons to cultivate the land, and thereby make the soil 
productive. By doing this, you induce hundreds 
of persons throughout the United States, who are 
now producing but little, to come in contact with 
the soil and add to the productive capacity of the 
country, and thereby promote the national weal. 

I come now to the amendment offered by the 
Senator from North Carolina. I have not looked 
over the Globe this morning to read his remarks 
of yesterday ; but if I understood him correctly, he 
advocated the proposition of issuing a warrant for 
a hundred and sixty acres of land to each head of a 
family in the United States. I am inclined to think 
the Senator is not serious in this proposition. It 
has been offered on some occasions heretofore, and 
rejected by very decided votes. Let us compare it 
with the proposition of the bill. The idea of the 
honorable Senator seems to be that this bill was 
designed to force or compel, to some extent, the 
citizens of other States to go to the new States. 
Why, sir, there is no compulsory process in the 


bill. It leaves each man at his own discretion, at 
his own free will, either to go or to stay, just as it 
suits his inclinations. 

The Senator seems to think too and the same 
idea was advanced by his predecessor that at this 
time such a measure would have a tendency to 
diminish the revenue. He intimates that the na 
tion is now bankrupt, that we are borrowing money, 
that the receipts from customs have been greatly 
diminished, and that therefore it would be danger 
ous to pass this bill, because it would have a ten 
dency to diminish the revenue. Let us compare the 
Senator s proposition and that of the bill, in this 
respect. His amendment is to issue warrants to 
each head of a family. The population of the 
United States is now estimated at about twenty- 
eight millions. Let us assume, for the sake of 
illustration, that there are three million heads of 
families in the United States. His proposition, 
then, is to issue and throw upon the market three 
millions of warrants, each warrant entitling the 
holder to one hundred and sixty acres of land. If 
that were done, and those warrants were thrown 
upon the market, what would they sell for ? Little 
or nothing. If such land-warrants were thrown 
broadcast over the country, who would enter an 
other acre of land at. $1.25 ? Would not the war 
rants pass into the hands of land speculators and 
monopolists at a merely nominal price? Would 
they bring more than a quarter of a dollar an acre ? 


If you were to throw three millions of land-warrants 
into the market at one time, would they bring any 
thing ? Then the effect of that proposition would 
be to do but little good to those to whom the war 
rants were issued, and by throwing them into the 
market, it would cut off the revenue from public 
lands entirely, for no one would enter land for cash 
as long as warrants could be bought. That propo 
sition, then, is to aid and feed speculation. I do 
not say that is the motive or intention, but it is the 
tendency and effect of the Senator s proposition to 
throw a large portion of the public lands into the 
hands of speculators, and to cut them off from the 
treasury as a source of revenue. 

But what does this bill propose ? Will it dimin 
ish the receipts into the treasury from the public 
lands ? The bill provides that the entries under it 
shall be confined to the alternate sections, and that 
the person who obtains the benefit of the bill must 
be an actual settler and cultivator. In proportion 
as you settle and cultivate any portion of the public 
lands, do you not enhance the value of the remain 
ing sections, and bring them into the market much 
sooner, and obtain a better price for them than you 
would without this bill ? What is the principle 
upon which you have proceeded in all the railroad 
grants you have made ? They have been defended 
upon the ground that by granting alternate sections 
for railroads, you thereby brought the remaining 
lands into the market, and enabled the Govern- 


ment to realize its means at a much earlier period, 
making the remainder of the public lands more 
valuable than they were before. This bill pro 
ceeds upon the same idea. You have granted 
an immense amount of lands to railroads on this 
principle, and now why not do something for the 
people ? 

I say, that instead of wasting the public lands, 
instead of reducing the receipts into the treasury, 
this bill would increase them. In the first place, it 
will enhance the value of the reserved quarter- 
sections. This may be illustrated by an example. 
In 1848 we had nine million quarter-sections ; 
in 1858 we have about seven millions. Let us 
suppose that our population is twenty-eight mill 
ions, and that under the operation of this bill one 
million heads of families who are now producing 
but very little, and who have no land to cultivate, 
and very scanty means of subsistence, shall each 
have a quarter-section of land, what will the effect 
be ? At present these persons pay little or nothing 
for the support of the Federal Government, under 
the operation of our tariff system, for the reason 
that they have not got much to buy with. Plow 
much does the land yield to the Government while 
it is lying in a state of nature, uncultivated ? Noth 
ing at all. At the rate we have been selling the 
public lands, about three million dollars worth a 
year, estimating them at $1.25 an acre, it will take 
a fraction less than seven hundred years to dispose 
of the public domain. 


I will take a case that will demonstrate as clearly 
as the simplest sum in arithmetic that this is a reve 
nue measure. Let us take a million families who 
can now hardly procure the necessaries of life, and 
place them each on a quarter-section of land, 
how long will it be before their condition will be 
improved so as to make them able to contribute 
something to the support of the Government ? 
Now, here is soil producing nothing, here are hands 
producing but little. Transfer the man from the 
point where he is producing nothing, bring him in 
contact with a hundred and sixty acres of produc 
tive soil, and how long will it be before that man 
changes his condition ? As soon as he gets upon 
the land he begins to make his improvements, 
he clears out his field, and the work of production 
is commenced. In a short time he has a crop, he 
has stock and other things that result from bringing 
his physical labor in contact with the soil. He has 
the products of his labor and his land, and he is 
enabled to exchange them for articles of consump 
tion. He is enabled to buy more than he did be 
fore, and thus he contributes more to the support 
of his Government, while, at the same time, he 
becomes a better man, a more reliable man for all 
governmental purposes, because he is interested in 
the country in which he lives. 

To illustrate the matter further, let us take a 
family of seven persons in number who now have 
no home, no abiding place that they can call their 


own, and transfer them to a tract of one hundred 
and sixty acres of land which they are to possess 
and cultivate. Is there a Senator here who does 
not believe, that, by changing their position from 
the one place to the other, they would produce at 
least a dollar more than they did before ? I will 
begin at a point scarcely visible, a single dollar. 
Is there a man here or anywhere else who does not 
know the fact to be, that you increase a man s abil 
ity to buy when he produces more, by bringing his 
labor in contact with the soil. The result of that 
contact is production ; he produces something that 
he can convert and exchange for the necessities of 
his family. Suppose the increase was only a dollar 
a head for a million of families, each family consist 
ing of seven persons. By transferring a million of 
families from their present dependent condition to 
the enjoyment and cultivation of the public domain, 
supposing it \vould only increase their ability to buy 
foreign imports to the extent of a dollar each, you 
would create a demand for seven millions worth of 
imports. Our rates of duties, under the tariff act 
of 1846, are about thirty per cent., and thus, at the 
almost invisible beginning of a single dollar a head, 
you, in this way, increase the pecuniary and finan 
cial means of the Government to the extent of 

This would be the result, supposing that there 
would only be an addition of one dollar per head to 
the ability of each family by being taken from a con- 



dition of poverty and placed upon one hundred and 
sixty acres of land. This is the result, supposing 
them to have seven dollars more, with which to buy 
articles of consumption, than they had when they 
had no home, no soil to cultivate, no stimulant, no 
inducement to labor. If you suppose the effect 
would be to increase their ability two dollars per 
head, you would increase their consumption to the 
amount of $14,000,000, which, at thirty per cent, 
duty, would yield 84,200,000. If you supposed it 
increased the ability of a family four dollars per 
head, the total amount would be $28,000,000, which 
would yield a revenue of $8,400,000. I think that 
this would be far below the truth, and if you gave a 
family one hundred and sixty acres of land to culti 
vate, the effect would be to increase the ability of 
that family so as to buy fifty-six dollars worth more 
than they bought before, eight dollars a head. 
That would be a small increase to a family who had 
a home, compared with the condition of that family 
when it had none. The effect of that would be to 
run up the amount they buy to $56,000,000, which, 
at a duty of thirty per cent., would yield the sum of 

I show you, then, that, by taking one million 
families, consisting of seven persons each, and put 
ting them each upon a quarter-section of land, mak 
ing the soil productive, if you thereby only added to 
their capacity to buy goods to the amount of fifty-six 
dollars per family, you would derive a revenue of 


nearly seventeen million dollars. When you have 
done this, how much of the public lands would you 
have disposed of? Only one million quarter-sec 
tions, and you would have nearly six million quarter- 
sections left. By disposing of one sixth of your pub 
lic domain in this way, upon this little miniature 
estimate, you bring into the coffers of the Federal 
Government by this bill $16,800,000 annually. 

Does this look like diminishing the revenue ? 
Does it not rather show that this bill is a revenue 
measure ? I think it is most clearly a revenue 
measure. Not only is this the case in a money 
point of view, so far as the imports are concerned, 
but, by settling the alternate sections with actual 
cultivators, you make the remaining sections more 
valuable to the Government, and you bring them 
sooner into market. In continuation of this idea, I 
will read a portion of the argument which I made 
upon this subject when I first introduced the bill 
into the other House. I read from the report of my 
speech on that occasion : 

" Mr. J. said, it will be remembered by the House that he 
had already shown, that by giving an individual a quarter-sec 
tion of the land, the Government would receive back, in the 
shape of a revenue, in every seven years, more than the 
Government price of the land ; and, upon this principle, the 
Government would, in fact, be realizing two hundred and ten 
dollars every subsequent term of seven years. The whole 
number of acres of public land belonging to the United States 
at this time, or up to the 30th of September, 1848, is one 
billion four hundred and forty-two millions two hundred and 


sixteen thousand one hundred and sixty-eight acres. This 
amount, estimated at $1.25 per acre, will make $1,802,770,000. 
To dispose of $3,000,000 worth per annum, which is more than 
an average sum, would require seven hundred years, or a frac 
tion less, to dispose of the entire domain. It will now be per 
ceived at once, that the Government would derive an immense 
advantage by giving the land to the cultivator, instead of 
keeping it on hand this length of time. We find by this pro 
cess the Government would derive from each quarter-section 
in six hundred years, (throwing off the large excess of nearly 
one hundred years,) $17,000, seven going into six hundred 
eighty-five times. This, then, shows on the one hand what 

the Government would gain by giving the land away 

He said that this expose ought to satisfy every one, that instead 
of violating the plighted faith of the Government, it was en 
larging and making more valuable, and enabling the Govern 
ment to derive a much larger amount of revenue to meet all 
its liabilities, and thereby preserving its faith inviolate." 

I do not think there can be any question as to the 
revenue part of this proposition. We show that by 
granting a million quarter-sections you derive more 
revenue upon the public lands than you do by your 
entire land system, as it now stands. In 1850, it 
was estimated that each head of a family consumed 
$100 worth of home manufactures. If we increase 
the ability of the cultivator and occupier of the soil 
fifty-six dollars in the family, of course it is reason 
able to presume that he would consume a corre 
spondingly increased proportion of home manufac 
tures. Can that proposition be controverted ? I 
think not. Then we see on the one hand, that we 
should derive more revenue from granting the land, 


on the principle laid down in the bill, and also that 
we should open a market for articles manufactured 
in our own country. Then, taking both views of the 
subject, we see that it is an advantage to the manu 
facturing interest, and that it is also an advantage 
to the Government, so far as imports are concerned. 
I should like to know, then, where can the objection 
be, upon the score of revenue. 

But, Mr. President, the question of dollars and 
cents is of no consideration to me. The money 
view of this subject does not influence my mind by 
the weight of a feather. I think it is clear, though ; 
and this view has been presented to prove to Sena 
tors that this bill will not diminish, but, on the con 
trary, will increase the revenue. 

But this is not the most important view of the 
subject. When you look at our country as it is, you 
see that it is very desirable that the great mass of the 
people should be interested in the country. By this 
bill you provide a man witli a home, you increase the 
revenue, you increase the consumption of home 
manufactures, and you make him a better man, and 
you give him an interest in the country. His condi 
tion is better. There is no man so reliable as he who 
is interested in the welfare of his country ; and who 
are more interested in the welfare of their country 
than those who have homes ? When a man has a 
home, he has a deeper, a more abiding interest in 
the country, and he is more reliable in all things 
that pertain to the Government. He is more reli- 


able when he goes to the ballot-box ; he is more 
reliable in sustaining in every way the stability of 
our free institutions. 

It seems to me that this, without the other con 
sideration, would be a sufficient inducement. When 
we see the population that is accumulating about 
some of our cities, I think it behooves every man 
who is a statesman, a patriot, and a philanthropist, 
to turn his attention to this subject. I have lately 
seen some statistics with reference to the city of New 
York, in which it is assumed that one sixth of the 
population are paupers ; that two sixths of the popu 
lation are barely able to sustain themselves ; leaving 
one pauper to be sustained by three persons in every 
six in the city of New York. Does not that present 
a frightful state of things ? Suppose the population 
of that city to be one million : you would have in 
the single city of New York one hundred and sixty- 
six thousand paupers. 

I do not look upon the growth of cities and the 
accumulation of population about cities, as being the 
most desirable objects in this country. I do not 
believe that a large portion of this population, even 
if you were to offer them homesteads, would ever 
go to them. I have no idea that they would ; 
for a man who has spent most of his life about a 
city, and has sunk into a pauperized, condition, is 
not the man to go West, reclaim one hundred and 
sixty acres of land, and reduce it to cultivation. 
He will not go there on that condition. Though 


we are satisfied of this, may not our policy be such 
as to prevent, as far as practicable, the further accu 
mulation of such an unproductive population about 
our cities ? Let us try to prevent their future ac 
cumulation ; let these live, have their day, and pass 
away, they will ultimately pass away, but let our 
policy be such as to induce men to become mechan 
ics and agriculturists. Interest them in the country ; 
pin them to the soil ; and they become more reliable 
and sustain themselves, and you do away with much 
of the pauperism in the country. The population 
of the United States being twenty-eight millions, if 
the same proportion of paupers as in the city of New 
York existed throughout the country, you would 
have four million six hundred and sixty-six thou 
sand paupers in the United States. Do we want all 
our population to become of that character? Do 
we want cities to take control of this Government ? 
Unless the proper steps be taken, unless the proper 
direction be given to the future affairs of this Govern 
ment, the cities are to take charge of it and control 
it. The rural population, the mechanical and agri 
cultural portions of this community, are the very 
salt of it. They constitute the " mud-sills," to use a 
term recently introduced here. They constitute the 
foundation upon which the Government rests ; and 
hence we see the state of things before us. Should 
we not give the settlement of our public lands and 
the population of our country that direction which 
will beget and create the best portion of the popu 
lation ? Is it not fearful to think of four million 


six hundred and sixty-six thousand paupers in the 
United States, at the rate they have them in the city 
of New York? Mr. Jefferson never said a truer 
thing than when he declared that large cities were 
eye-sores in the body-politic : in democracies they 
are consuming cancers. 

I know the idea of some is to build up great 
populous cities, and that thereby the interests of the 
country are to be promoted. Sir, a city not only 
sinks into pauperism, but into vice and immorality 
of every description that can be enumerated ; and I 
would not vote for any policy that I believed would 
build up cities upon this principle. Build up your 
villages, build up your rural districts, and you will 
have men who rely upon their own industry, who 
rely upon their own efforts, who rely upon their own 
ingenuity, who rely upon their own economy and 
application to business for a support ; and these are 
the people whom you have to depend upon. Why, 
Mr. President, how was it in ancient Rome ? I 
know there has been a great deal said in denuncia 
tion of agrarianism and the Gracchi. It has been 
said that a doctrine something like this led to the 
decline of the Roman empire ; but the Gracchi 
never had their day until a cancerous influence had 
destroyed the very vitals of Rome ; and it was the 
destruction of Rome that brought forth Tiberius 


Gracchus. It was to prevent land monopoly, not 
agrarianism, in the common acceptation of the term, 
which is dividing out lands that had been ac 
quired by individuals. They sought to take back 


and put in the possession of the great mass of the 
people that portion of the public domain which had 
been assumed by the capitalists, who had no title to 
it in fact. The Gracchi tried to carry out this 
policy, to restore that which had been taken from 
the people. The population had sunk into the con 
dition of large proprietors on the one hand, and 
dependants on the other ; and when this dependent 
condition was brought about, as we find from Nie- 
buhr s History, the middle class of the community 
was all gone ; it had left the country ; there was 
nothing but an aristocracy on the one hand, and de 
pendants upon that aristocracy on the other ; and 
when this got to be the case, the Roman empire 
went down. 

Having this illustrious example before us, we 
should be warned by it. Our true policy is to build 
up the middle class, to sustain the villages, to 
populate the rural districts, and let the power of 
this Government remain with the middle class. I 
want no miserable city rabble on the one hand ; 
I want no pampered, bloated, corrupted aristocracy 
on the other. I want the middle portion of society 
to be built up and sustained, and to let them have 
the control of the Government. I am as much op 
posed to agrarianism as any Senator on this floor, 
or any individual in the United States ; and this 
bill does not partake in the slightest degree of agra 
rianism ; but, on the contrary, it commences with 
men at the precise point where agrarianism ends, 


and it carries them up in an ascending line, while 
that carries them down. It gives them an interest 
in their country, an interest in public affairs ; and 
when you are involved in war, in insurrection, 
or rebellion, or danger of any kind, they are the 
men who are to sustain you. If you should have 
occasion to call volunteers into the service of the 
country, you will have a population of men hav 
ing homes, having wives and children to care for, 
who will defend their hearth-stones when invaded. 
What a sacred thing it is to a man to feel that he 


has a hearth-stone to defend, a home, and a wife 
and children to care for, and to rest satisfied that 
they have an abiding place. Such a man is inter 
ested individually in repelling invasion ; he is inter 
ested individually in having good government. 

I know there are many, and even some in the 
Democratic ranks, whose nerves are a little timid 
in regard to trusting the people with too much 
power. Sir, the people are the safest, the best, 
and the most reliable lodgment of power, if you 
have a population of this kind. Keep up the mid 
dle class ; lop off an aristocracy on the one hand, 
and a rabble on the other ; let the middle class 
maintain the ascendency, let them have the power, 
and your Government is always secure. Then 
you need not fear the people. I know, as I have 
just remarked, that some are timid in regard to 
trusting the people ; but there can be no danger 
from a people who are interested in their Govern- 


ment, who have homes to defend, and wives and 
children to care for. Even if we test this propo 
sition by that idea of self-interest which is said to 
govern and control man, I ask you if a man, who 
has an interest in his country, is not more reli 
able than one who has none ? Is not a man who 
is adding to the w r ealth of his country more reli 
able than one who is simply a consumer and has 
no interest in it ? If we suppose a man to be gov- 
erned only by the principle of self-interest, is he 
not more reliable when he has a stake in the coun 
try, and is it not his interest to promote and ad 
vance his own condition ? Is it not the interest 
of the great mass to have everything done rightly 
in reference to Government ? The great mass of 
the people hold no office ; they expect nothing from 
the Government. The only way they feel, and 
know, and understand the operations of the Gov 
ernment is in the exactions it makes from them. 
When they are receiving from the Government 
protection in common, it is their interest to do 
right in all governmental affairs ; and that being 
their interest, they are to be relied upon, even if 
you suppose men to be actuated altogether by the 
principle of self-interest. It is the interest of the 
middle class to do right in all governmental affairs ; 
and hence they are to be relied upon. Instead of 
requiring you to keep up your armies, your mounted 
men, and your footmen on the frontier, if you will 
let the people go and possess this public land on the 


conditions proposed in this bill, you will have an 
army on the frontier composed of men who will 
defend their own firesides, who will take care of 
their own homes, and will defend the other portions 
of the country, if need be, in time of war. 

I would remark in this connection, that the pub 
lic lands have paid for themselves. According to 
i & 

the report of Mr. Stuart of Virginia, the Secre 
tary of the Interior in 1850, it was shown that 
then the public lands had paid for themselves, and 
sixty millions over. We have received into the 
treasury since that time about thirty-two million 
dollars from the public lands. They have, there 
fore, already paid the Government more than they 
cost, and there can be no objection to this bill on 
the ground that the public lands have been bought 
with the common treasure of the whole country. 
Besides, this bill provides that each individual mak 
ing an entry shall pay all the expenses attending it. 
We see, then, Mr. President, the effect this pol 
icy is to have on population. Let me ask here, 
looking to our popular elections, looking to the 
proper lodgment of power, is it not time that we 
had adopted a policy which would give us men 
interested in the affairs of the country to control 
and sway our elections ? It seems to me that this 
cannot long be debated ; the point is too clear. 
The agricultural and mechanical portion of the 
community are to be relied upon for the preserva 
tion and continuance of this Government. The 


great mass of the people, the great middle class, 
are honest. They toil for their support, accept 
ing no favor from Government. They live by 
labor. They do not live by consumption, but by 
production ; and we should consume as small a 
portion of their production as it is possible for us 
to consume, leaving the producer to appropriate 
to his own use and benefit as much of the product 
of his own labor as it is possible in the nature of 
things to do. The great mass of the people need 
advocates men who are honest and capable, who 
are willing to defend them. How much legislation 
is done for classes, and how little care seems to be 
exercised for the great mass of the people. When 
we are among our constituents, it is very easy to 
make appeals to the people and professions of patri 
otism, and then I do not mean to be personal or 
invidious it is very easy, when we are removed 
from them a short distance, to forget the people 
and legislate for classes, neglecting the interest of 
the great mass. The mechanics and agriculturists 
are honest, industrious, and economical. Let it 
not be supposed that I am against learning or edu 
cation, but I might speak of the man in the rural 
districts in the language of Pope, 

" Unlearned, he knew no schoolman s subtle art, 
No language but the language of the heart; 
By nature honest, by experience wise; 
Healthy by temperance and exercise." 

This is the kind of men whom we must rely 
upon. Let your public lands be settled ; let them 



be filled up ; let honest men become cultivators 
and tillers of the soil, I do not claim to be pro 
phetic, but I have sometimes thought that if we 
would properly direct our legislation in reference 
to our public lands and our other public policy, the 
time would come when this would be the greatest 
government on the face of the earth. Go to the 
great valley of the Mississippi ; take the western 
slope of the mountains to the Pacific Ocean ; take 
the whole area of this country, and we find that 
we have over three million square miles. Throw 
off one fourth as unfit for cultivation, reducing the 
area of the United States to fifteen hundred million 
acres, and by appropriating three acres to a person, 
it will sustain a population of over five hundred 
million people ; and I have no doubt, if this conti 
nent was strained to its utmost capacity, it could 
sustain the entire population of the world. Let us 
go on and carry out our destiny ; interest men in 
the soil ; let your vacant land be divided equally 
so that men can have homes ; let them live by their 
own industry ; and the time will come when this 
will be the greatest nation on the face of the earth. 
Let agriculture and the mechanic arts maintain the 
ascendency, and other professions and pursuits be 
subordinate to them, for on these two all others rest. 
Since the crucifixion of our Saviour, emigration 
has been westward ; and the poetic idea might 
have started long before it did, 

" Westward the star of empire takes its way." 


It has been taking its way westward. The United 
States are filling up. We are going on to the Pa 
cific coast. Let me raise the inquiry here, when, 
in the history of mankind, in the progress of na 
tions, was there any nation that ever reached the 
point we now occupy ? When was there a nation 
in its progress, in its settlement, in its advance in 
all that constitutes and makes a nation great, that 
occupied the position we now T occupy ? When 
was there any nation that could look to the East 
and behold the tide of emigration coming, and, at 
the same time, turn around and look to the mighty 
West, and behold the tide of emigration approach 
ing from that direction. The waves of emigration 
have usually been running in one direction, but 
we find the tide of emigration now changed, and 
we are occupying a central position on the globe. 
Emigration is coming to us from the East and from 
the West ; and when our vacant territory shall be 
filled up, when it shall reach a population of one 
hundred and fifty or five hundred millions, who can 
say what will be our destiny ? 

When our railroad system shall progress on 
proper principles, extending from one extreme of 
the country to the other, like so many arteries ; 
when our telegraphic wires shall be stretched 
along them as the nerves in the human frame, and 
they shall run in parallel lines, and be crossed at 
right angles, until the whole globe, as it were, and 
especially this great centre, shall be covered like 


a net-work with these arteries and nerves ; when 
the face of the globe shall flash with intelligence 
like the face of man ; we, occupying this important 
point, may find our institutions so perfected, science 
so advanced, that instead of receiving immigration, 
instead of receiving nations from abroad, this will 
be the great sensorium from which our notions of 
religion, our notions of government, our improve 
ments in works of every description shall radiate as 
from a common centre, and revolutionize the world. 

Who dares say that this is not our destiny, if we 
will only permit it to be fulfilled ? Then let us 
go on with this great work of interesting men in 
becoming connected with the soil ; interesting them 
in remaining in your mechanic shops ; prevent their 
accumulation in the streets of your cities ; and in 
doing this, you will dispense with the necessity for 
all your pauper system. By doing this you enable 
each community to take care of its own poor. By 
doing this you destroy and break down the great 
propensity that exists with men to hang and loiter 
and perish about the cities of the Union, as is done 
now in the older countries. 

It is well enough, Mr. President, to see where 
our public lands have been going. There seems 
to be a great scruple now in reference to the ap 
propriation of lands for the benefit of the people ; 
but the Federal Government has been very lib 
eral heretofore in granting lands to the States for 
railroad purposes. We can pass law after law, 


making grant after grant of the public lands to 
corporations, without alarming any one here. We 
have already granted to railroad monopolies, to 
corporations, twenty-four million two hundred and 
forty-seven thousand acres. Those grants hardly 
meet with opposition in Congress ; but it seems to 
be very wrong, in the estimation of some, to grant 
lands to the people on the conditions proposed in 
the bill before us. We find, furthermore, that 
there have been granted to the States, as swamp 
lands, and some of these lands will turn out to be 
the most productive on the globe, forty million 
one hundred and thirty-three thousand five hun 
dred and sixty-five acres. 

In relation to the public lands, and the grants 
which have been made by the Government, I have 
obtained from the Commissioner of the General 
Land-Office several tables, which I now submit. 

Estimate of the Quantities of Land which will inure to the 
Stales under Grants for Railroads, up to June 30, 1857. 

States. Acres. Date of Law. 

Illinois 2,595,053 September 20, 1850. 

Missouri 1,815,435 June 10, 1852; Feb. 9, 1853. 

Arkansas 1,465,297 February 9, 1853. 

Michigan 3,096,000 June 3/1856. 

Wisconsin 1,622,800 June 3, 1856. 

Iowa 3,456,000 May 15, 1856. 

Louisiana 1,102,560 June 3 and Aug. 11, 1856. 

Mississippi 950,400 August 11, 1856. 

Ahlvirm 1 01 q qOO 5 Ma - V l 7 JunG 3 and Au 

1,913,39 - | Uj 1856 . March3?1857 

Florida 1,814,400 May 17, 1856. 

Minnesota 4,416,000 March 3, 1857. 

Total -..-24,247,335 


Statement showing the Quantity of Swamp-land approved to 

the several States, up to 30th June, 1857. 
States. Acres. 

Ohio 25,650.71 

Indiana 1,250,937.51 

Illinois . 1,369,140.72 

Missouri 3,615,966.57 

Alabama 2,595.51 

Mississippi 2,834,796.11 

Louisiana 7,601 ,535.46 

Michigan 5,465,232.41 

Arkansas 5,920,024.94 

Florida 10,396,982.47 

Wisconsin 1,650,712.10 

Total 40,133,564.51 

Estimate of unsold and unappropriated Lands in each of the 
States and Territories, including surveyed and unsurveyed, 
offered and unoffered Lands, on the 30th June, 1856. 

States and Territo- Number of quarter- 

ries. Acres. sections. 

Ohio 43,553.34 272 

Indiana 36,307.41 227 

Illinois 511,662.85 3,198 

Missouri 13,365,319.81 83,533 

Alabama 9,459,367.74 59,121 

Mississippi 5,519,390.69 34,496 

Louisiana 5,933,373.83 37,083 

Michigan 10,056,298.06 62,852 

Arkansas 15,609,542.84 97,560 

Florida 18,067,07-2.75 112,919 

Iowa 6,237,661.03 38,985 

Wisconsin 15,222,549.50 95,141 

California 113,682,436.00 710,515 

Minnesota Ten tory 82,502,608.33 515,641 

New Mexico 
Indian * 

118,913,241.31 743,208 

76,444,055.25 477,775 

155,210,804.00 970,067 

134,243,733.00 839,023 
206,984,747.00 1,293,655 

76,361,058.00 477,256 
42,892,800.00 268,080 

Total 1,107,297,572.74 6,920,607 


The table giving the estimated quantity of all our 
public lands, shows the feasibility of the plan in favor 
of which I have been speaking. I know that some 
gentlemen from the Southern States object to this 
bill because they fear that it will carry emigrants 
from the free States into those States. Well, sir, 
on this point I have drawn some conclusions from 
figures, which I will present to the Senate. In the 
State of Alabama there are now undisposed of fifty- 
nine thousand one hundred and tw T enty-one quarter- 
sections of land. I ask my Southern friends, would 
it not be better if a man in the State of Alabama 
would select a quarter-section there, and take the 
two hundred dollars it would have cost him, and 
expend it there, even though it might be inferior 
land, than to compel him to pay 81.25 an acre, and 
emigrate from the State of Alabama to a place 
where he could get better land ? If you compel 
him to pay the higher price, it becomes his interest 
to leave his native State ; but by permitting him to 
take the land and expend on its improvement what 
he would otherwise have to pay, and what it would 
cost him to move, the chances are that he will 
remain where he is. In the State of Mississippi 
here are thirty-four thousand four hundred and 
ninety-six quarter-sections ; in Louisiana, thirty- 
seven thousand ; in Arkansas, ninety-seven thou 
sand ; in Florida, one hundred and twelve thousand. 
Altogether, the quarter-sections of public lands 
belonging to the Government amount to six million 


nine hunch 1 sd and twenty thousand. How feasible 
the plan is. I have shown, too, that it would take 
over six hundred years to dispose of the public lands 
at the rate we have been disposing of them, and that 
if you take one million quarter-sections and have 
them settled and cultivated, you will obtain more 
revenue, and you will enhance the remaining public 
lands more than the value of those the Government 

I live in a Southern State ; and, if I know my 
self, I am as good a Southern man as any one who 
lives within the borders of the South. It seems to 
be feared that by this bill we compel men to go on 
the lands. I want to compel no man to go. I want 
to leave each and every man to be controlled by his 
own inclination, by his own interest, and not to 
force him ; but is it statesmanlike, is it philanthropic, 
is it Christian, to keep a man in a State, and refuse 
to let him go, because, if he does go, he will help 
to populate some other portion of the country ? If 
a man lives in the county in which I live, and he 
can, by crossing the line into another county, better 
his condition* I say let him go. If, by crossing the 
boundary of my State and going into another, he 
can better his condition, I say let him go. If a man 
can go from Tennessee into Illinois, or Louisiana, or 
Mississippi, or Arkansas, or any other State, and 
better his condition, let him go. I care not where 
he goes, so that he locates himself in this great area 
of freedom, becomes attached to our institutions, 


and interested in the prosperity and welfare of the 
country. * I care not where he goes, so that he 
is under the protection of our Stars and Stripes. I 
say, let him go where he can better the condition of 
himself, his wife, and children ; let him go where 
he can receive the greatest remuneration for his toil 
and for his labor. What kind of a policy is it to 
say that a man shall be locked up where he was 
born, and shall be confined to the place of his birth ? 
Take the State of North Carolina, represented 
by the honorable Senator before me, 1 and I have 
no doubt it is his intention to represent that 
people to their satisfaction, would it have been 
proper to require the people of North Carolina, 
from her early settlement to the present time, to be 
confined within her boundaries ? Would they not 
have looked upon it as a hard sentence ? Would 
they not have looked upon it as oppressive and 
cruel ? North Carolina has supplied the Western 
States with a large proportion of her population, for 
the reason that by going West they could better 
their condition. Who would prevent them from 
doing it ? Who would say to the poor man in North 
Carolina, that has no land of his own to cultivate, 
that lives upon some barren angle, or some piny 
plain, or in some other State upon some stony ridge, 
that he must plough and dig the land appointed to 
him by his landlord, and that he is not to emigrate 
to any place where he can better his condition ? 

1 Mr. Clingman. 


What is his prospect? He has to live poor; he 
has to live hard ; and, in the end, when he dies, 
poverty, want, is the only inheritance he can leave 
his children. There is no one who has a higher 
appreciation of North Carolina than I have ; she 
is my native State. I found it to be my interest 
to emigrate, and I should have thought it cruel and 
hard if I had been told that I could not leave her 
boundary. Although North Carolina did not afford 
me the advantages of education, though I cannot 
speak in the language of the schoolmen, and call 
her my cherishing mother, yet, in the language of 
Cowper, " with all her faults, I love her still." She 
is still my mother ; she is my native State ; and I 
love her as such, and I love her people, too. But 
what an idea is it to present, as influencing the 
action of a statesman, that people may not emigrate 
from one State to another ! Sir, I say let a man go 
anywhere within the boundaries of the United States 
where he can better his condition. 

Mr. President, if I entertained the notions that 
some of my friends who oppose this bill do, I should 
be a more ardent advocate of its policy than I am 
now, if that were possible. My friend from Ala 
bama l entertains some strange notions in reference 
to democracy and the people ; and in his speech on 
the fisheries bill, he gave this proposition a kind of 
side-blow, a lick by indirection. I do not object to 
that ; but if I entertained his opinions, I should be 

i Mr. Clay. 


a more determined and zealous advocate of the 
policy of this bill than I am now, if that were possi 
ble. In his speech upon the Lecompton Constitution, 
that. Senator, in speaking of the powers of the con 
vention which framed the Constitution, said : 

" In my opinion, they would have acted in stricter accordance 
with the spirit and genius of our institutions if they had not 
submitted it in whole or in part to the popular vote. Our 
governments are republics, not democracies. The people 
exercise their sovereignty not in person at the ballot-box, but 
through agents, delegates, or representatives. Our fathers 
founded republican governments in preference to democra 
cies, not so much because it would be impracticable as because 
it would be unwise and inexpedient for the people themselves 
to assemble and adopt laws." 

I have always thought the general idea had been 
that it was not practicable to do everything in a 
strict democratic sense, and that it was more con 
vergent for the people to appear through their del 
egates. But the Senator said further : 

" They were satisfied, from reading and reflection, of the 
truth of Mr. Madison s observation about pure democracies, 
that they have ever been spectacles of turbulence and con 
tention ; have ever been found incompatible with personal 
security, or the rights of property ; and have in general been 
as short in their lives as they have been violent in their 
deaths. ...... 

" They knew that a large body of men is more 

liable to be controlled by passion or by interest than a single 
individual, and is more apt to sacrifice the rights of the minor 
ity, because it can be done with more impunity. Hence they 
endeavored to impose restraints upon themselves. Hence they 
committed the making of all their laws, organic or municipal, 


to their delegates or representatives, whose crimes they could 
punish, whose errors they could correct, and whose powers 
they could reclaim. 

" The great security of our rights of life, liberty, and prop 
erty, is in the responsibility of those who make and of those 
who execute the law. Establish as a principle that, to give 
sanction to law, it must be approved by a majority at the 
ballot-box, and you take away this security and surrender 
those rights to the most capricious, rapacious, and cruel of 
tyrants. I regret to see the growing spirit in Congress and 
throughout the country to democratize our government ; 
to submit every question, whether pertaining to organic or 
municipal laws, to the vote of the people. This is sheer rad 
icalism ; it is the Red Republicanism of revolutionary France, 
which appealed to the sections on all occasions, and not the 
American Republicanism of our fathers. Their Republicanism 
was stable and conservative ; this is mutable and revolutionary. 
Theirs afforded a shield for the minority; this gives a sword 
to the majority. Theirs defended the rights of the weak ; this 
surrenders them to the power of the strong. God forbid that 
the demagogism of this day should prevail over the philan 
thropic and philosophic statesmanship of our fathers." 

In the same speech, the Senator said, 
"Property is the foundation of every social fabric. To 

preserve, protect, and perpetuate rights of property, society 

is formed, and government is framed." 

Now, if I entertained these notions, I should un 
questionably go for the Homestead Bill. I am free 
to say, here, that I do not hold the doctrine ad 
vanced by the honorable gentleman from Alabama, 
to the extent that he goes. I believe the people are 
capable of self-government. I think they have 
demonstrated it most clearly ; and I do not think 
the Senator s history of democracy states the case as 


it should be. I presume in the Senator s own State 
the people acted directly upon their Constitution at 
the ballot-box. That is the organic law. If they 
did not there, they have done so in most of the 
States of the Union ; not, perhaps, in their original 
formation of their governments, but as the people 
have gone on and advanced in popular government. 
The honorable Senator seems to be opposed to 
democratizing, in other words, he is opposed to 
popularizing our institutions ; he is afraid to trust 
the control of things to the people at the balfot-box. 
Why, sir, the organic law which confers all the 
power upon your State legislatures, creates the 
different divisions, different departments of the State. 
The government is controlled at the ballot - box, 
and the doctrine set forth in the Constitution of 
Alabama is, that the people have a right to abolish 
and change their form of government when they 
think proper. The principle is clearly recognized ; 
and on this my honorable friend and myself differ 
essentially. I find a similar doctrine laid down in a 
pamphlet which I have here : 

" In the convention that framed the Constitution of the 
United States, Gouverneur Morris said, that Property is the 
main object of society. Mr. King said, Property is the 
primary object of society. Mr. Butler contended strenuous 
ly that Property was the only just measurer of representa 
tion. This was the great object of government; the great 
cause of war ; the great means of carrying it on. Mr. 
Madison said, that In future times a great majority of the 
people will not only be without landed, but any other sort of 
property. These will either combine under the influence of 


their common situation, in which case the right of property 
and the public liberty will not be secure in their hands, 
or, what is more probable, they will become the tools of opu 
lence and ambition. Gouverneur Morris again said, Give the 
votes to the people who have no property, and they will sell 
them to the rich who will be able to buy them. We should 
not confine our attention to the present moment. The time 
is not far distant when this country will abound with mechanics 
and manufacturers, who will receive their bread from their 
employers. Will such men be the secure and.faithful guardians 
of liberty ? Madison remarks, that those who opposed the 
property basis of representation, did so on the ground that the 
number of people was a fair index to the amount of property 
in any district." 

These are not notions entertained by me ; but 
they are important as the notions of some of our 
public men at the early formation of our Govern 
ment. I entertain no such notions. If, however, 
the Senator from Alabama holds that property is 
the main object and basis of society, he, above all 
other men, ought to go for this bill, so as to place 
every man in the possession of a home and an 
interest in his country. The very doctrine that he 
lays down appeals to him trumpet-tongued, and asks 
him to place these men in a condition where they 
can be relied upon. His argument is unanswerable, 
if it be true, in favor of the Homestead Bill. It is 
taking men out of a dependent condition ; it is pre 
venting this Government from sinking into that con- 
.dition that Rome did in her decline. I ask him 
now, if he entertains these opinions, as promulgated 
in his speech, to come up and join with us in the 


passage of this bill, and make every man, if possible, 
a property-holder, interested in his country ; give 
him a basis to settle upon, and make him reliable at 
the ballot-box. 

His speech is a fine production. I heard it with 
interest at the time it was delivered. I hold the 
opposite to him. Instead of the voice of the people 
being the voice of a demon, I go back to the old 
idea, and I favor the policy of popularizing all our free 
institutions. We are Democrats, occupying a posi 
tion here from the South ; we start together, but 
we turn our backs upon each other very soon. His 
policy would take the Government further from the 
people. I go in a direction to popularize it, and 
bring it nearer to the people. There is no better 
illustration of this than that old maxim, which is 
adopted in all our ordinary transactions, that " if 
you want a thing done, send somebody to do it ; if 
you want it well done, go and do it yourself." It 
applies with great force in governmental affairs as in 
individual affairs ; and if we can advance and make 
the workings and operation of our Government 
familiar to and understood by the people, the better 
for us. I say, when and wherever it is practicable, 
let the people transact their own business ; bring 
them more in contact with their Government, and 
then you will arrest expenditure, you will arrest 
corruption, you will have a purer and better gov 

I hold to the doctrine that man can be advanced ; 


that man can be elevated ; that man can be exalted 
in his character and condition We are told, on high 
authority, that he is made in the image of his God ; 
that he is endowed with a certain amount of divinity. 
And I believe man can be elevated ; man can be 
come more and more endowed with divinity ; and as 
he does he becomes more God-like in his character 
and capable of governing himself. Let us go on 
elevating our people, perfecting our institutions, 
until democracy shall reach such a point of perfec 
tion that we can exclaim with truth that the voice 
of the people is the voice of God. 

As I said, I have entertained different notions from 
those inculcated by the honorable Senator. If I 
entertained his notions, then I should be for the 
Homestead. I hold in my hand a document, by 
which it was proclaimed in 1776, 

" We hold these truths to be self-evident : that all men are 
created equal ; that they are endowed by their Creator with 
certain inalienable rights ; that among these are life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness ; that to secure these rights govern 
ments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers 
from the consent of the governed." 

Is property laid down there as the great element 
and the great basis of society ? It is only one ; and 
Mr. Jefferson laid it down in the Declaration of In 
dependence, that it was a self-evident truth that 
government was instituted for what ? To protect 
men in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
That is what Mr. Jefferson said. And who in- 


dorsed it ? The men who framed the Declara 
tion of Independence, who did not go upon the 
idea that property was the only element of society. 
The doctrine established by those who proclaimed 
our independence, was, that life, liberty, and the 
pursuit of happiness were three great ends of gov 
ernment, and not property exclusively. When the 
declaration came forth from the old Congress Hall, 
it came forth as a column of fire and li^ht. It 


declared that the security of life and liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness, were the three great ends 
of government. Mr. Jefferson says, in his first In 
augural Address, which is the greatest paper that 
has ever been written in this Government, and I 
commend it to the reading of those who say they are 
Democrats, by way of refreshing their memories, 
that they may understand what are correct Demo 
cratic principles, 

u Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the 

government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the 

government of others ? Or have we found angels in the form 

of kings to govern him. Let history answer this question. " 

Mr. Jefferson seems to think man can be trusted 
with the government of himself. In the Declara 
tion of Independence he does not embrace property ; 
in fact, it is not referred to. But I am willing to 
concede that it is one of the primary and elementary 
principles in government. Mr. Jefferson declares 
the great truth that man is to be trusted ; that man 
is capable of governing himself, and that he has a 


right to govern himself. In the same Inaugural 
Address of Mr. Jefferson, we find the passage usually 
attributed to Washington s Farewell Address, which 
has got universal circulation, that we should pur 
sue our own policy ; that we should promote our 
own institutions, maintaining friendly relations with 
all, entangling alliances with none. Let us carry 
out the doctrines of the Inaugural Address of Mr. 
Jefferson ; let us carry out the great principles laid 
down in the Declaration of Independence, which this 
Homestead Bill embraces. 

But I wish to call attention to some other author 
ity on this subject. As contradistinguished from the 
views of the Senator from Alabama, I present the 
views of a recent writer 1 as in accordance with my 
own notions of Democracy : 

" The democratic party represents the great principle of 
progress. It is onward and outward in its movements. It has 
a heart for action, and motives for a world. It constitutes the 
principle of diffusion, and is to humanity what the centrifugal 
force is to the revolving orbs of a universe. What motion is to 
them, democracy is to principle. It is the soul in action. It 
conforms to the providence of God. It has confidence in man, 
and an abiding reliance in his high destiny. It seeks the 
largest liberty, the greatest good, and the surest happiness. It 
aims to build up the great interests of the many, to the least 
detriment of the few. It remembers the past, without neglect 
ing the present. It establishes the present, without fearing to 
provide for the future. It cares for the weak, while it permits 
no injustice to the strong. It conquers the oppressor, and pre 
pares the subjects of tyranny for freedom. It melts the bigot s 

1 Lamartine. 


heart to meekness, and reconciles his mind to knowledge. It 
dispels the clouds of ignorance and superstition, and prepares 
the people for instruction and self-respect. It adds wisdom to 
legislation, and improved judgment to government. It favors 
enterprise that yields a reward to the many and an industry 
that is permanent. It is the pioneer of humanity the con 
servator of nations. It fails only when it ceases to be true to 
itself. Vox populi, vox Dei, has proved to be both a prov 
erb, and a prediction. 

" It is a mistake to suppose that democracy may not be ad 
vanced under different forms of government. Its own, it 
should be remembered, is the highest conventional form, that 
which precedes the lofty independence of the individual, spoken 
of by the Apostle to the Hebrews, who will need government 
but from the law which the Lord has placed in his heart. 

" In one respect, all nations are governed upon the same 
principle ; that is, each adopts the form which it has the under 
standing and the power to sustain. There is in all a greater 
or lesser pow T er, and it requires no profound speculation to 
decide which will control. A tyrannical dictator may do more 
to advance the true interests of democracy than a moderate 
sovereign who is scrupulously guarded by an antiquated con 
stitution ; for the tyrant adds vigor to his opponents by his 
deeds of oppression. 

" The frequent question as to what form of government js 
best, is often answered without any reference to condition or 
application of principles. There can be properly but one 
answer, and yet the application of that answer may lead to 
great diversity of views. 

" When it is asserted that the democratic form of govern 
ment is unquestionably the best, it must be considered that the 
answer not only designates the form preferred, but implies a 
confident belief in the advanced condition of the people who 
are to be the subjects of it. It premises the capacity for self- 
control, and a corresponding degree of knowledge in regard to 
the rights, balances, and necessities of society. It involves a 


discriminating appreciation of the varied duties of the man, the 
citizen, and the legislator. It presupposes a reasonable knowl 
edge of the legitimate means and entls of government, en 
larged views of humanity, and of the elements of national 

" The democratic form of government is the best, because 
its standard of moral requisition is the highest. It claims for 
man a universality of interest, liberty, and justice. It is Chris 
tianity with its mountain beacons and guides. It is the stand 
ard of Deity based on the eternal principles of truth, passing 
through and rising above the yielding clouds of ignorance, into 
the regions of infinite wisdom. As we live on, this pillar of the 
cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, will not be taken 
from before the people, but stand immovable, immeasurable, 
and in the brightness of its glory continue to shed increasing 
light on a world and a universe. 

" The great objects of knowledge and moral culture of the 
people are among its most prominent provisions. Practical 
religion and religious freedom are the sunshine of its growth 
and glory. It is the sublime and mighty standard spoken of 
by the Psalmist, who exclaims, in the beautiful language of 
poetical conception, 

" The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above 
the heavens. Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth 
on high ; who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in 
heaven and in the earth ? He raiseth up the poor out of the 
dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may 
set him with princes, even with the princes of the people. 

" Democracy is a permanent element of progress, and is 
present everywhere, whatever may be the temporary form of 
the ruling power. Its inextinguishable fires first burst forth in 
an empire, and its welcome lights cheer the dark domains or 
despotism. While tyrants hate the patriot and exile him 
from their contracted dominions, the spirit of democracy invests 
him as a missionary of humanity, and inspires him with an elo 
quence which moves a world. Its lightning rays cannot be 


hidden ; its presence cannot be banished. Dictators, kings, 
and emperors, are bi4 its servants ; and, as man becomes 
elevated to the dignity of self-knowledge and control, their 
administration ceases. Their rule indicates an imperfect state 
of society, and may be regarded as the moral props of the 
builder, necessary only to sustain a people in their different 
periods of growth. One cannot speak of them lightly, nor in 
dulge in language that should seem to deny their fitness as the 
instruments of good in the hands of Providence. Their true 
position may be best gathered from the prediction which is 
based upon a knowledge of the past and present condition of 
man, that all kingdoms and empires must cease whenever a 
people have a knowledge of their rights, and acquire the power 
of a practical application of principles. This is the work of 
time. It is the work of constant, repeated trial. The child 
that attempts to step an hundred times and falls ; the new- 
fledged bird that tries its feeble wings again and again before 
it is able to sweep the circle of the sky with its kindred flock, 
indicate the simple law upon which all strength depends, 
whether it be the strength of an insect, or the strength of a 

u Because a people do not succeed in changing their form of 
government, even after repeated trinls, we are not to infer 
that they are indulging in impracticable experiments, nor that 
they will be disappointed in ultimately realizing the great ob 
jects of their ambition. Indeed, all failures of this class are 
indicative of progressive endeavor. They imply an increasing 
knowledge of the true dignity of man, and a growing disposi 
tion to engage in new and more and more difficult endeavors. 
These endeavors are but the exercise of a nation, and without 
them, no people can ever command the elements of national 
existence and of self-control. But inquiries in regard to so 
extensive a subject should be shaped within more practical 

" The triumphs of democracy constitute the way-marks of 
the world. They demand no extraneous element of endurance 
for permanency, no fictitious splendor for embellishment, no 


borrowed greatness for glory. Originating in the inexhaust 
ible sources of power, moved by the spirit of love and liberty, 
and guided by the wisdom which comes from the instincts and 
experience of the immortal soul, as developed in the people, 
democracy exists in the imperishable principle of progress, 
and registers its achievements in the institutions of freedom, 
and in the blessings which characterize and beautify the 
realities of life. Its genius is to assert and advance the true 
dignity of mind, to elevate the motives and affections of man, 
and to extend, establish, protect, and equalize the common 
rights of humanity. 

" Condorcet, although an aristocrat by genius and by birth, 
became a democrat from philosophy." 

A few years since a Whig member of the United 
States Senate sneeringly asked Senator Allen, of 
Ohio, the question, " What is democracy ? " The 
following was the prompt reply : 

" Democracy is a sentiment not to be appalled, corrupted, or 
compromised. It knows no baseness ; it cowers to no danger ; 
it oppresses no weakness ; destructive only of despotism, it is 
the sole conservator of liberty, labor, and property. It is the 
sentiment of freedom, of equal rights, of equal obligations 
the law of nature pervading the law of the land." 

" What, sir, asked Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Con 
vention of 1778, is the genius of democracy ? Let me read 
that clause of the Bill of Rights of Virginia, which relates to 
this (third clause) : That government is or ought to be in 
stituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the 
people, nation, or community ; of all the various modes and 
forms of gov3rnment, that is best which is capable of produ 
cing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most 
effectually secured against the dangers of mal-administration ; 
and that whenever any government shall be found inadequate 
or contrary to those principles, or contrary to those purposes, 
a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, 


and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such 
manner as shall be judged the most conducive to the public 
weal. " ! 

In the same convention Judge Marshall said, 

" What are the favorite maxims of democracy ? A strict 
observance of justice and public faith, and a steady adherence 
to virtue ; - - these, sir, are the principles of a good govern 
ment." 2 

" Democracy, says the late Mr. Legare, of South Caro- 
lina, in an article published in the New York Review, in the 
high and only true sense of that much-abused word, is the des 
tiny of nations, because it is the spirit of Christianity. " 3 

I have referred to the remarks of the Senator 
from Alabama to show that if his doctrines were 
true, he should go for the passage of the Homestead 
Bill, because, in order to sustain the Government on 
the principles laid down by him, every man should 
be a property-holder. I want it understood that I 
enter a disclaimer to the doctrine presented by him, 
and merely present his argument to show why he, 
above all others, ought to go for the Homestead 
policy. I refer to Mr. Legare, Judge Marshall, 
and the author of the "History of Democracy," 
as laying down my notions of democracy, as con 
tradistinguished from those laid down by the dis 
tinguished Senator from Alabama. We are both 
members from the Democratic party. I claim to be 
a Democrat, East, West,. North, or South, or any 
where else. I have nothing to diso-uise. I have re- 

<T3 O 

ferred to the Declaration of Independence, and to Mr. 

1 Elliot s Debates, Vol. III. p. 77. 2 Ibid. p. 223. 

3 Ibid. Vol. V. p. 297. 


Jefferson s Inaugural Address, for the purpose of 
showing that democracy means something very dif 
ferent from what was laid down by the distinguished 
Senator from Alabama. I furthermore refer to 
these important documents to show that property 
is not the leading element of government and of 
society. Mr. Jefferson lays down, as truths to be 
self-evident, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap 
piness are the leading essentials of government. 

But it is not my purpose to dwell longer on that ; 
and I wish to pass to the speech of the Senator from 
South Carolina. 1 I disagree in much that was said 


by that distinguished Senator ; and I wish to show 
that he ought to go for the Homestead policy, so as 
to interest every man in the country. If property 
is the leading and principal element on which society 
rests ; if property is the main object for which 
government was created, the gentlemen who are the 
foremost, the most zealous, and most distinguished 
advocates of that doctrine should sustain the Home 
stead policy. The honorable Senator from South 
Carolina, in his speech on the Lecompton Constitu 
tion, by innuendo or indirection, had a hit at the 
Homestead a side-blow. He said : 

" Your people are awaking. They are coming here. They 
are thundering at our doors for homesteads, one hundred and 
sixty acres of land for nothing ; and Southern Senators are 
supporting them. Nay, they are assembling, as I have said, 
with arms in their hands, and demanding work at $1000 a 
year for six hours a day. Have you heard that the ghosts of 

1 Mr. Hammond. 


Mendoza and Torquemada are stalking in the streets of your 
great cities ? That the Inquisition is at hand ? " 

If this be true, as assumed by the distinguished 
Senator from South Carolina, is it not an argument 
why men should be placed in a condition where 
they will not clamor, where they will not raise 
mobs to threaten Government, and demand home 
steads ? Interest these men in the country ; give 
them homes, or let them take homes ; let them be 
come producers ; let them become better citizens ; 
let them be more reliable at the ballot-box. I want 
to take them on their ground, their principle, that 
property is the main element of society and of gov 
ernment ; and if their doctrine be true, the argu 
ment is still stronger in favor of the Homestead than 
the position I assume. But the distinguished Sena 
tor from South Carolina goes on : 

" In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial 
duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class re 
quiring but a low order of intellect, and but little skill. Its 
requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must 
have, or you would not have that other class which leads 
progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very 
mud-sill of society and of political government ; and you might 
as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either 
the one or the other, except on this mud-sill. 

" The poor ye always have with you ; for the man who 
lives by daily labor, and scarcely lives at that, and who has to 
put out his labor in the market, and take the best he can get 
for it in short, your whole hireling class of manual laborers 
and operatives, as you call them, are essentially slaves. 
The difference between us is, that our slaves are hired for life 


and well compensated 5 there is no starvation, no begging, no 
want of employment among our people ; and not too much 
employment either. Yours are hired by the day, not cared 
for, and scantily compensated, which may be proved in the 
most painful manner, at any hour, in any street in any of your 
large towns. Why, you meet more beggars in one day, in 
any single street of the city of New York, than you would 
meet in a lifetime in the whole South. We do not think that 
whites should be slaves either by law or necessity." 

In this portion of the Senator s remarks I concur. 
I do not think whites should be slaves ; and if sla 
very is to exist in this country, I prefer black slavery 
to white slavery. But what I want to get at is, to 
show that my worthy friend from South Carolina 
should defend the Homestead policy, and the im 
policy of making the invidious remarks that have 
been made here in reference to a portion of the 
population of the United States. Mr. President, so 
far as I am concerned, I feel that I can afford to 
speak what are rny sentiments. I am no aspirant 
for anything on the face of God Almighty s earth. 
I have reached the summit of my ambition. The 
acme of all my hopes has been attained, and I would 
not give the position I occupy here to-day for any 
other in the United States. Hence, I say, I can 
afford to speak what I believe to be true. 

In one sense of the term we are all slaves. A 
man is a slave to his ambition ; he is a slave to his 
avarice ; he is a slave to his necessities ; and, in 
enumerations of this kind, you can scarcely find any 
man, high or low in society, but who, in some sense, 


is a slave ; but they are not slaves in the sense we 
mean at the South, and it will not do to assume 
that every man who toils for his living is a slave. 
If that be so, all are slaves ; for all must toil more 
or less, mentally or physically. But in the other 
sense of the term, we are not slaves. Will it do to 
assume that the man who labors with his hands, 
every man who is an operative in a manufacturing 
establishment or a shop, is a slave ? No, sir ; that 
will not do. Will it do to assume that every man 
who does not own slaves, but has to live by his own 
labor, is a slave? That will not do. If this were 
true, it would be very unfortunate for a good many 
of us, and especially so for me. I am a laborer 
with my hands, and I never considered myself a 
slave, in the acceptation of the term slave in the 
South. I do own some ; I acquired them by my 
industry, by the labor of my hands. In that sense 
of the term I should have been a slave while I 
was earning them with the labor of my hands. 

Mr. HAMMOXD. Will the Senator define a slave? 

Mr. JOHNSON. What we understand to be a 
slave in the South, is a person who is held to ser 
vice during his or her natural life, subject to, and 
under the control of, a master who has the right to 
appropriate the products of his or her labor to his 
own use. The necessities of life, and the various 
positions in which a man may be placed, operated 
upon by avarice, gain, or ambition, may cause him 
to labor; but that does not make a slave. How 


many men are there in society who go out and 
work with their own hands, who reap in the field, 
and mow in a meadow, who hoe corn, who work in 
the shops ? Are they slaves ? If we were to go 
back and follow out this idea, that every operative 
and laborer is a slave, we should find that we have 
had a great many distinguished slaves since the 
world commenced. Socrates, who first conceived 
the idea of the immortality of the soul, Pagan as he 
was, labored with his own hands ; yes, wielded 
the chisel and the mallet, giving polish and finish to 
the stone ; he afterwards turned to be a fashioner 
and constructor of the mind. Paul, the great ex 
pounder, himself was a tent-maker, and worked 
with his hands : was he a slave ? Archimedes, who 
declared that, if he had a place on which to rest 
the fulcrum, with the power of his lever he could 
move the world : was he a slave ? Adam, our 
great father and head, the lord of the world, was a 
tailor by trade : I wonder if he was a slave ? 

When we talk about laborers and operatives, look 
at the columns that adorn this chamber, and see 
their finish and style. We are lost in admiration 
at the architecture of your buildings, and their mas 
sive columns. We can speak with admiration. 
What would it have been but for hands to con 
struct it ? Was the artisan who worked upon it a 
slave ? Let us go to the South and see how the 
matter stands there. Is every man that is not a 
slaveholder to be denominated a slave because he 


labors ? Why indulge in such a notion ? The 
argument cuts at both ends of the line, arrd this 
kind of doctrine does us infinite harm in the South. 
There are operatives there ; there are laborers 
there ; there are mechanics there. Are they slaves ? 
Who is it in the South that gives us title and secur 
ity to the institution of slavery? Who is it, let me 
ask every Southerner around me ? Suppose, for 
instance, we take the State of South Carolina, 
and there are many things about her and her people 
that I admire, we find that the 384,984 slaves in 
South Carolina are owned by how many whites ? 
They are owned by 25,556. Take the State of 
Tennessee, with a population of 800,000, 239,000 
slaves are owned by 33,864 persons. The slaves in 
the State of Alabama are owned by 29,295 whites. 
The whole number of slaveholders in all the slave 
States, when summed up, makes 347,000, owning 
three and a half million slaves. The white popu 
lation in South Carolina is 274,000 ; the slaves 
greater than the whites. The aggregate population 
of the State is 668,507. 

The operatives in South Carolina are 68,549. 
Now, take the 25,000 slave-owners out, and a large 
proportion of the people of South Carolina work 
with their hands. Will it do to assume that, in the 
State of South Carolina, the State of Tennessee, 
the State of Alabama, and the other slaveholding 
States, all those who do not own slaves are slaves 
themselves ? Will this assumption do ? What 


does it do at home in our own States ? It has a 
tendency to raise prejudice, to engender opposition 
to the institution of slavery itself. Yet our own 
folks will do it. 

Mr. MASON. Will the Senator from Tennessee 
allow me to interrupt him for a moment ? 

Mr. JOHNSON. Yes, sir. 

Mr. MASON. The Senator is making an exhibi 
tion of the very few slaveholders in the Southern 
States, in proportion to the white population, ac 
cording to the census. That is an exhibition which 
has been made before by Senators who sit on the 
other side of the Chamber. They have brought 
before the American people what they allege to be 
the fact, shown by the census, that of the white 
population in the Southern States, there are very 
few who are slaveholders. The Senator from Ten 
nessee is now doing the same thing. I understand 
him to say there are but some I do not remem 
ber exactly the number, but I think three hundred 
thousand or a fraction more of the whites in the 
slaveholding States, who own three million slaves ; 
but he made no further exposition. I ask the Sen 
ator to state the additional fact that the holders of 
the slaves are the heads of families of the white 
population ; and neither that Senator nor those 
whose example he has followed on the other side, 
has stated the fact that the white population in the 
Southern States, as in the other States, embraces 
men, women, and children. He has exhibited only 


the number of slaveholders who are heads of fam 

Mr. JOHNSON. The Senator says I have not 
made an exhibit of the fact. The Senator inter 
rupted me before I had concluded. I gave way 
as a matter of courtesy to him. Perhaps his 
speech would have had no place, if he had waited 
to hear me a few moments longer. 

Mr. MASON. I shall wait. I thought the Sen 
ator had passed that point. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I was stating the fact, that ac 
cording to the census-tables three hundred and 


forty-seven thousand white persons owned the 
whole number of slaves in the Southern States. 
I was about to state that the families holding these 
slaves might average six or eight or ten persons, 
all of whom are interested in the products of slave- 
labor, and many of these slaves are held by minors 
and by females. I was not alluding to the matter 
for the purpose the Senator from Virginia seems 
to have intimated, and I should have been much 
obliged to him if he had waited until he heard my 
application of these figures. I w r as going to show 
that expressions like those to which I have alluded, 
operate against us in the South, and I was follow 
ing the example of no one. I was taking these 
facts from the census-tables, which were published 
by order of Congress, to show the bad policy and 
injustice of declaring that the laboring portion of 
our population were slaves and menials. Such 


declarations should not be applied to the people 
either North or South. I wished to say in that 
connection, that, in my opinion, if a few men at 
the North and at the South, who entertain extreme 
views on the subject of slavery, and desire to keep 
up agitation, were out of the way, the great mass 
of the people, North and South, would go on pros 
perously and harmoniously under our institutions. 

Sir, carry out the Homestead policy, attach the 
people to the soil, induce them to love the Govern 
ment, and you will have the North reconciled to 
the South, and the South to the North, and we 
shall not have invidious doctrines preached to stir 
up bad feelings in either section. I know that in 
my own State, and in the other Southern States, 
the men who do not own slaves are among the 


first to take care of the institution. They will sub 
mit to no encroachment from abroad, no interfer 
ence from other sections. 

I have said, Mr. President, much more than I 
intended to say, and, I fear, in rather a desultory 
manner, but I hope I have made myself under 
stood. I heard that some gentleman was going to 
offer an amendment to this bill, providing that the 
Government should furnish every man with a slave. 
So far as I am concerned, if it suited him, and his 
inclination led him that way, I wish to God every 
head of a family in the United States had one to 
take the drudgery and menial service off his family. 


I would have no objection to that ; but this intima 
tion was intended as a slur upon my proposition. 
I want that to be determined by the people of the 
respective States, and not by the Congress of the 
United States. I do not want this body to inter 
fere by innuendo or by amendment, prescribing 
that the people shall have this or the other. I de 
sire to leave that to be determined by the people 
of the respective States, and not by the Congress 
of the United States. 

I hope, Mr. President, that this bill will be 
passed. I think it involves the very first princi 
ples of the Government : it is founded upon states 
manship, humanity, philanthropy, and even upon 
Christianity itself. I know the argument has been 
made, why permit one portion of the people to go 
and take some of this land and not another ? The 
law is in general terms ; it places it in the power 
of every man who will go to take a portion of the 
land. The Senator from Alabama suggests to me 
that a person, in order to get the benefit of this bill, 
must prove that he is not the owner of other land. 
An amendment was yesterday inserted in the bill 
striking out that provision. Then it places all on 
an equality to go and take. Why should this not 
be done ? It was conceded yesterday that the land 
was owned by the people. There are over three 
million heads of families in the United States ; and 
if every man who is the head of a family were to 
take a quarter-section of public land, there would 


still be nearly four million quarter-sections left. 
If some people go and take quarter-sections, it does 
not interfere with the rights of others, for he who 
goes takes only a part of that which is his, and 
takes nothing that belongs to anybody else. The 
domain belongs to the whole people ; the equity is 
in the great mass of the people ; the Government 
holds the fee and passes the title, but the beneficial 
interest is in the people. There are, as I have 
said, two quarter-sections of land for every head 
of a family in the United States, and we merely 
propose to permit a head of a family to take one 
half of that which belongs to him. 

I believe the passage of this bill will strengthen 
the bonds of the Union. It will give us a better 
voting population, and just in proportion as men 
become interested in property, they will become 
reconciled to all the institutions of property in the 
country, in whatever shape they may exist. Take 
the institution of slavery, for instance : would you 
rather trust it to the mercies of a people liable to 
be ruled by the mobs of which my honorable 
friend from South Carolina spoke, or would you 
prefer an honest set of landholders ? Which would 
be the most reliable ? Which would guarantee the 
greatest security to our institutions, when they 
come to the test of the ballot-box ? 

Mr. President, I hope the Senate will pass this 
bill. I think it will be the beginning; of a new 

O O 

state of things a new era. 


So far as I am concerned, I say it not in any 
spirit of boasting or egotism, if this bill were 
passed, and the system it inaugurates carried out, 
of granting a reasonable quantity of land for a man s 
family, and looking far into the future I could see 
resulting from it a stable, an industrious, a hardy, 
a Christian, a philanthropic community, I should 
feel that the great object of my little mission was 
fulfilled. All that I desire is the honor and the 
credit of being one of the American Congress to 
consummate and to carry out this great scheme 
that is to elevate our race and to make our insti 
tutions more permanent. I want no reputation 
as some have insinuated. You may talk about 
Jacobinism, Red Republicanism, and so on. I 
pass by such insinuations as the idle wind which 
I regard not. 


I know the motives that prompt me to action. I 
can go back to that period in my own history when 
I could not say that I had a home. This being 
so, when I cast my eyes from one extreme of the 
United States to the other, and behold the great 
number that are homeless, I feel for them. I be 
lieve this bill would put them in possession of 
homes ; and I want to see them realizing that sweet 
conception when each man can proclaim, " I have 
a home ; an abiding place for my wife and for my 
children ; I am not the tenant of another ; I am 
my own ruler ; and I will move according to my 
own will, and not at the dictation of another." 


Yes, Mr. President, if I should never be heard of 
again on the surface of God s habitable globe, the 
proud satisfaction of having contributed my little 
aid to the consummation of this great measure is 
all the reward I desire. 

The people need friends. They have a great 
deal to bear. They make all ; they do all ; but 
how little they participate in the legislation of the 
country ? All, or nearly all, of our legislation is 
for corporations, for monopolies, for classes, and 
individuals ; but the great mass who produce while 
we consume, are little cared for ; their rights and 
interests are neglected and overlooked. Let us, as 
patriots, as statesmen, let us as Christians, consum 
mate this great measure which will exert an in 
fluence throughout the civilized world in fulfilling 
our destiny. I thank the Senate for their atten 




The question pending being the Joint Resolution introduced 
by Mr. Johnson, on Thursday, the 13th of December, 1860, 
proposing amendments to the Constitution of United States. 1 

Mr. PRESIDENT : By the joint resolution now be 
fore the Senate, three amendments to the Consti 
tution of the United States are proposed. One 
proposes to change the mode of election of Presi 
dent and Vice-President of the United States from 
the electoral college to a vote substantially and 
directly by the people. The second proposes that 
the Senators of the United States shall be elected 
by the people, once in six years, instead of by the 
Legislatures of the respective States. The third 
provides that the Supreme Court shall be divided 
into three classes, the term of the first class to 
expire in four years from the time that the classifi 
cation is made ; of the second class in eight years ; 
and of the third class in twelve years ; and as 
these vacancies occur they are to be filled by per 
sons chosen, one half from the slave States and 
the other half from the non-slaveholding States, 

1 See Appendix, p. 1. 



thereby taking the judges of the Supreme Court 
from the respective divisions of the country. 

Mr. President, if these amendments had been 
made, and the Constitution had been in the shape 
now proposed, I think the difficulties that are now 
upon the country would have been obviated. It 
would have been required that either the President 
or the Vice-President should be taken from the 
South, and that would have destroyed, to some ex 
tent, the sectional character of our recent election. 

The next provision of the amendment would re 
quire the votes cast for President and Vice-Presi 
dent to be cast by districts ; and if we are to take 
as an indication the returns to the House of Rep 
resentatives of a majority of twenty-seven against 
the incoming Administration, it is pretty conclu 
sive that a President differing in politics and sen 
timents from the one who has been recently elected 
would have been chosen. Each district would 
have voted directly for the President and Vice- 
President of the United States. The individual 
having a majority of the votes in that district 
would be considered as receiving one electoral 
vote, just as we count the votes for one member 
of Congress. Hence, if all the votes in the re 
spective districts had been cast on the same prin 
ciple, we should in the next Congress have a 
majority of twenty-seven in opposition to the 
incoming Administration in the House of Rep 
resentatives ; for they would have given us a ma- 


jority in the electoral colleges. It seems to me, if 
these propositions were adopted and made a part 
of the Constitution, that, to a very great extent, 
the difficulty and complaint that are now manifested 
in different portions of the country would be ob 
viated, and especially so with some improvement 
or modification of the law which provides for the 
restoration of fugitives from labor. 

It is not my purpose, sir, to discuss these prop 
ositions to amend the Constitution in detail to-day, 
and I shall say but little more in reference to them 
and to their practical operation ; but, as we are now, 
as it were, involved in revolution, (for there is a 
revolution, in fact, upon the country,) I think it 
behooves every man, and especially every one occu 
pying a public place, to indicate, in some manner, 
his opinions and sentiments in reference to the ques 
tions that agitate and distract the public mind. I 
shall be frank on this occasion in giving my views 
and taking my position, as I have always been upon 
questions that involve the public interest. I believe 
it is the imperative duty of Congress to make some 
effort to save the country from impending disso 
lution ; and he that is unwilling to make an effort 
to preserve the Union, or, in other words, to pre 
serve the Constitution, and the Union as an incident 
resulting from the preservation of the Constitution, 
is unworthy of public confidence, and the respect 
and gratitude of the American people. 

In most that I shall say on this occasion, I shall 


not differ very essentially from my Southern friends. 
The difference will consist in the mode and manner 
by which this great end is to be accomplished. 
Some of our Southern friends think that secession 
is the mode by which these ends can be accom 
plished ; that if the Union cannot be preserved in 
its spirit, by secession they will get those rights 
secured and perpetuated that they have failed to 
obtain within the Union. 

I am opposed to secession. I believe it is no 
remedy for the evils complained of. Instead of 
acting with that division of my Southern friends 
who take ground for secession, I shall take other 
grounds, while I try to accomplish the same end. 
I think that this battle ought to be fought not 
outside, but inside of the Union, and upon the 
battlements of the Constitution itself. I am un 
willing voluntarily to walk out of the Union which 
has been the result of a Constitution made by the 
patriots of the Revolution. They formed the Con 
stitution ; and this Union that is so much spoken 
of, and which all of us are so desirous to preserve, 
grows out of the Constitution ; and I repeat, I am 
not willing to walk out of a Union growing out 
of the Constitution that was formed by the patriots 
and the soldiers of the Revolution. So far as I 
am concerned, and I believe I may speak with some 
degree of confidence for the people of my State, 
we intend to fight that battle inside and not outside 
of the Union ; and if anybody must go out of the 


Union, it must be those who violate it. We do 
not intend to go out. It is our Constitution ; it is 
our Union, growing out of the Constitution ; and 
we do not intend to be driven from it or out of the 
Union. Those who have violated the Constitution 
either in the passage of what are denominated per 
sonal-liberty bills, or by their refusal to execute the 
fugitive-slave law, they having violated the in 
strument that binds us together, must go out, and 
not we. If we violate the Constitution by going 
out ourselves, I do not think we can go before 
the country with the same force of position that 
we shall if we stand inside of the Constitution, 
demanding a compliance with its provisions and 
its guarantees ; or if need be, as I think it is, de 
manding additional securities. We should make 
that demand inside of the Constitution, and in the 
manner and mode pointed out by the instrument 
itself. Then we keep ourselves in the right; we 
put our adversary in the wrong ; and though it 
may take a little longer, we take the right means 
to accomplish an end that is right in itself. 

I know that sometimes we talk about compro 
mises. I am not a compromiser, nor a conserva 
tive, in the usual acceptation of those terms. I 
have been generally considered radical, and I do 
not come forward to-day in anything that I shall 
say or propose, asking for anything to be done 
upon, the principle of compromise. If we ask for 
anything, it should be for that which is right and 


reasonable in itself. If it be right, those of whom 
we ask it, upon the great principle of right, are 
bound to grant it. Compromise ! I know in the 
common acceptation of the term it is to agree upon 
certain propositions in which some things are con 
ceded on one side and others conceded on the other. 
I shall go for enactments by Congress or for amend 
ments to the Constitution, upon the principle that 
they are right, and upon no other ground. I 
am not for compromising right with wrong. If we 
have no right, we ought not to demand it. If we 
are in the wrong, they should not grant us what 
w r e ask. I approach this momentous subject on 
the great principles of right, asking for nothing 
and demanding nothing but what is right in itself, 
and what every right-minded man and a right- 
minded community and a right-minded people, who 
wish for the preservation of this Government, will 
be disposed to grant. 

In fighting this battle, I shall do it upon the basis 
laid down by a portion of the people of my own 
State, in a large and very intelligent meeting. A 
committee of the most intelligent men in the coun 
try reported this resolution : 

"Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with our sister 
Southern States, and freely admit that there is good cause 
for dissatisfaction and complaint on their part, on account 
of the recent election of sectional candidates to the Presi 
dency and Vice-Presidency of the United States; yet we, 
as a portion of the people of a slaveholding community, are 
not for seceding or breaking up the Union of these States 


until every fair and honorable means has been exhausted 
in trying to obtain, on the part of the non-slaveholding 
States, a compliance with the spirit and letter of the Con 
stitution and all its guarantees ; and when this shall have 
been done, and the States now in open rebellion against the 
laws of the United States, in refusing to execute the fugi 
tive-slave law, shall persist in their present unconstitu 
tional course, and the Federal Government shall fail or 
refuse to execute the laws in good faith, it (the Govern 
ment) will not have accomplished the great design of its 
creation, and will therefore, in fact, be a practical dissolu 
tion, and all the States, as parties, be released from the 
compact which formed the Union." 

The people of Tennessee, irrespective of party, 
go on and declare further : 

" That in the opinion of this meeting no State has the 
constitutional right to secede from the Union without the 
consent of the other States which ratified the compact. 
The compact, when ratified, formed the Union without 
making any provision whatever for its dissolution. It (the 
compact) was adopted by the States in toto and forever, 
* without reservation or condition; hence a secession of one 
or more States from the Union, without the consent of the 
others ratifying the compact, would be revolution, leading 
in the end to civil, and perhaps servile war. While we 
deny the right of a State, constitutionally, to secede from 
the Union, we admit the great and inherent right of revo 
lution, abiding and remaining with every people, but a righ\ 
which should not be exercised, except in extreme cases, and 
in the last resort, when grievances are without redress, and 
oppression has become intolerable." 

They declare further : 

" That in our opinion, we can more successfully resist the 
aggression of Black Republicanism by remaining within 


the Union, than we can by going out of it ; and more espe 
cially so, while there is a majority of both branches in the 
National Legislature opposed to it, and the Supreme Court 
of the United States is on the side of law and the Consti 

They go on, and declare further : 

" That we are not willing to abandon our Northern friends 
who have stood by the Constitution of the United States, 
and in standing by it have vindicated our rights, and in 
their vindication have been struck down ; and now, in their 
extremity, we cannot and will not desert them by secedingj 
or otherwise breaking up the Union." 

This is the basis upon which a portion of the 
people of Tennessee, irrespective of party, pro 
pose to fight this battle. We believe that our true 
position is inside of the Union. We deny the 
doctrine of secession ; we deny that a State has 
the power, of its own volition, to withdraw from 
the Confederacy. We are not willing to do an 
unconstitutional act, to induce or to coerce others 
to comply with the Constitution of the United 
States. We prefer complying with the Constitu 
tion, and fighting our battle, and making our de 
mand inside of the Union. 

I know, Mr. President, that there are some who 
believe and we see that some of the States are 
acting on that principle that a State has the right 
to secede ; that, of its own will, it has a right to 
withdraw from the Confederacy. I am inclined to 
think, and I know it is so in fact, that in many por 
tions of the country this opinion has resulted from 


the resolutions of your own State, sir, 1 of 1798 and 
1799. I propose to-day to examine that subject, for 
I know from the examination of it that there has 
been a false impression made upon my own mind in 
reference to those resolutions, and the power pro 
posed to be exercised by a State in seceding upon 
its own will. When we come to examine those 
resolutions, we find that the third reads as follows : 

" That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily 
declare that it views the powers of the Federal Government, 
as resulting from the compact, to which the States are parties, 
as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument 
constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are 
authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact ; and 
that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise 
of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the States 
who are parties thereto have the right, and are in duty bound, 
to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for 
maintaining within their respective limits the authorities, 
rights, and liberties appertaining to them." 

The phraseology of the Kentucky Resolution is 
somewhat broader and more extensive. It declares 
that a State has the right to judge of the infraction 
of the Constitution, as well as the mode and meas 
ure of redress. This is what is declared by that 
resolution which is repeated by so many in speeches 
and publications made through the country. Now, 
let Mr. Madison speak for himself as to what he 
meant by that resolution. Mr. Madison, in his 
report upon those resolutions, goes on and states ex- 

1 Mr. Mason, of Virginia, in the chair. 


pressly that in the resolution the word " States " is 
used, notwithstanding the word " respective " is 
used. Mr. Madison says : 

" It appears to your committee to be a plain principle, 
founded in common sense, illustrated by common practice, and 
essential to the nature of compacts, that, where resort can be 
had to no tribunal superior to the authority of parties, the 
parties themselves must be the rightful judges, in the last re 
sort, whether the bargain made has been pursued or violated. 
The Constitution of the United States was formed by the 
sanction of the States, given by each in its sovereign capacity. 
It adds to the stability and dignity, as well as to the authority 
of the Constitution, that it rests on this legitimate and solid 
foundation. The States, then, being the parties to the con 
stitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows 
of necessity, that there can be no tribunal above their author 
ity, to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made 
by them be violated ; and, consequently, that, as the parties to 
it, they must themselves [that is the States] decide, in the last 
resort, such questions as -may be of sufficient magnitude to 
require their interposition." 

" The States " are referred to through the report. 
He further remarks : 

" But the resolution has done more than guard against mis 
construction, by expressly referring to cases of a deliberate, 
palpable, and dangerous nature. It specifies the object of the 
interposition, which it contemplates to be solely that of arrest 
ing the progress of the evil of usurpation, and of maintaining 
the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to the States, 
as parties to the Constitution." 

Now we find, by the examination of this subject, 
that Mr. Madison, in his report, explains it, and 
repudiates the idea that a State, as a party to the 


compact, has a right to judge of an infraction of the 
Constitution or any other grievance, and, upon its 
own volition, withdraw from the Confederacy. I 
will here read a letter of Mr. Madison to Nicholas 
P. Trist, in explanation of this very proposition : 

"MONTPELIER, December 23, 1832. 

" DEAR SIR: I have received yours of the 19th, inclosing 
some South Carolina papers. There are in one of them some 
interesting views of the doctrine of secession, among which is 
one that had occurred to me, and which for the first time I 
have seen in print, namely : that if one State can at will with 
draw from the others, the others can withdraw from her, and 
turn her, nolentem. volentem, out of the Union. 

" Until of late there is not a State that would have abhorred 
such a doctrine more than South Carolina, or more dreaded 
an application of it to herself. The same may be said of the 
doctrine of nullification, which she now preaches as the only 
doctrine by which the Union can be saved. 

" I partake of the wonder that the men you name should 
view secession in the light mentioned. The essential differ 
ence between a free government and a government not free 
is, that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which 
are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them, there 
fore, can have a greater right to break off from the bargain 
than the other or others have to hold him to it ; and certainly 
there is nothing in the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 adverse to 
this principle, which is that of common sense and common 

" The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them 
lies in confounding a single party with the parties to the con 
stitutional compact of the United States. The latter, having 
made the compact, may do what they will with it. The 
former, as one of the parties, owes fidelity to it till released by 
consent or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power 


created. In the Virginia Resolutions and report the plural 
number (States) is in every instance used whenever reference 
is made to the authority which presided over the Govern 

He says the plural is used; that " States" is the 
word that is used ; and when we turn to the resolu 
tion we find it just as Mr. Madison represents it, 
thereby excluding the idea that a State can sepa 
rately and alone determine the question, and have 
the right to secede from the Union. 

" As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I 
may say, as I do with a distinct recollection, that it was inten 
tional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning 
employed on the occasion. The Kentucky Resolutions, being 
less guarded, have been more easily perverted. The pretext 
for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is tne word 
respective prefixed to the rights, &c., to be secured within 
the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been 
foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been 
varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense 
than that all having the rights, &c., should unite in contend 
ing for the security of them to each ? 

" It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers, who make the 
name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, 
shut their eyes and lips whenever his authority is ever so 
clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed 
what he says in his letters to Monroe and Carrington (pp. 43 
and 203, vol. 2) with respect to the power of the old Congress 
to coerce delinquent States ; and his reason for preferring for 
the purpose a naval to a military force ; and, moreover, his 
remark that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in 
{he Federal articles, that being inherent in the nature of a 
compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will 
should be put down by the public opinion, and I am glad 


to see the task commenced by one who understands the sub 

" I know nothing of what is passing at Richmond more than 
what is seen in the newspapers. You were right in your fore 
sight of the effect of passages in the late proclamation. They 
have proven a leaven for much fermentation there, and cre 
ated an alarm against the danger of consolidation balancing 
that of disunion. 

" With cordial salutations, JAMES MADISON. 


I have another letter of Mr. Madison, written in 
1833, sustaining and carrying out the same interpre 
tation of the resolutions of 1798 and 1799. I 
desire to read some extracts from that letter. Mr. 
Madison says : 

" Much use has been made of the term respective in the 
third resolution of Virginia, which asserts the right of the 
States, in cases of sufficient magnitude, to interpose for main 
taining within their respective limits the authorities, &c., apper 
taining to them ; the term respective being construed to 
mean a constitutional right in each State, separately, to decide 
on and resist by force encroachments within its limits. A 
foresight or apprehension of the misconstruction might easily 
have guarded against it. But, to say nothing of the distinction 
between ordinary and extreme cases, it is observable that in 
this, as in other instances throughout the resolutions, the 
plural number (States) is used in referring to them ; that a 
concurrence and cooperation of all might well be contemplated 
in interpositions for effecting the objects within reach; and 
that the language of the closing resolution corresponds with 
this view of the third. The course of reasoning in the report 
on the resolutions required the distinction between a State and 
the States. 



" It surely does not follow, from the fact of the States, or 
rather the people embodied in them, having, as parties to the 
constitutional compact, no tribunal above them, that, in con 
troverted meanings of the compact, a minority of the parties 
can rightfully decide against the majority, still less that a single 
party can decide against the rest, and as little that it can at 
will withdraw itself altogether from its compact with the rest. 

" The characteristic distinction between free governments 
and governments not free, is that the former are founded on 
compact, not between the government and those for whom it 
acts, but among the parties creating the government. Each 
of these being equal, neither can have more right to say that 
the compact has been violated and dissolved than every other 
has to deny the fact, and to insist on the execution of the 
bargain. An inference from the doctrine that a single State 
has a right to secede at will from the rest, is that the rest 
would have an equal right to secede from it ; in other words 
to turn it, against its will, out of its union with them. Such a 
doctrine would not, till of late, have been palatable anywhere, 
and nowhere less so than where it is now most contended 

When these letters are put together they are 
clear and conclusive. Take the resolutions ; take 
the report ; take Mr. Madison s expositions of them 
in 1832 and 1833 ; his letter to Mr. Trist ; his 
letter to Mr. Webster ; his letter to Mr. Rives ; 
and when all are summed up, this doctrine of a 
State, either assuming her highest political attitude 
or otherwise, having the right, of her own will, to 
dissolve all connection with this Confederacy, is an 
absurdity, and contrary to the plain intent and 
meaning of the Constitution of the United States. 
I hold that the Constitution of the United States 


makes no provision, as said by the President of the 
United States, for its own destruction. It makes no 
provision for breaking up the Government, and no 
State has the constitutional right to secede and 
withdraw from the Union. 

In July, 1788, when the Constitution of the 
United States was before the convention of New 
York for ratification, Mr. Madison was in the city 
of New York. Mr. Hamilton, who was in the con 
vention, wrote a letter to Mr. Madison to know if 
New York could be admitted into the Union, with 
certain reservations or conditions. One of those 
reservations or conditions was, as Mr. Hamilton 
says in his letter, that they should have the privi 
lege of receding within five or seven years if certain 
alterations and amendments were not made to the 
Constitution of the United States. Mr. Madison, 
in reply to that letter, makes use of the following 
emphatic language, which still further corroborates 
and carries out the idea that the Constitution makes 
no provision for breaking up the Government, and 
that no State has a right to secede. Mr. Madison 
says : 

"NEW YORK, Sunday Evening. 

" MY DEAR SIR : Yours of yesterday is this instant come 
to hand, and I have but a few minutes to answer it. I am 
sorry that your situation obliges you to listen to propositions of 
the nature you describe. My opinion is, that a reservation of 
a right to withdraw if amendments be not decided on under 
the form of the Constitution within a certain time, is a con 
ditional ratification ; that it does not make New York a mem- 


ber of the new Union, and consequently that she could not be 
received on that plan. Compacts must be reciprocal this 
principle would not in such a case be preserved. The Con 
stitution requires an adoption in toto and forever." 

This is the language of James Madison. 

" It has been so adopted by the other States. An adoption 
for a limited time would be as defective as an adoption of some 
of the articles only. In short, any condition whatever must 
vitiate the ratification. What the new Congress, by virtue of 
the power to admit new States, may be able and disposed to 
do in such case, I do not inquire, as I suppose that is not the 
material point at present. I have not a moment to add more 
than my fervent wishes for your success and happiness. The 
idea of reserving a right to withdraw was started at Richmond, 
and considered as a conditional ratification, which was itself 
abandoned as worse than a rejection. 


I know it is claimed, and I see it stated in some 
of the newspapers, that Virginia and some of the 
other States made a reservation, upon the ratification 
of the Constitution, that certain conditions were an 
nexed ; that they came in upon certain conditions, 
and therefore they had a right, in consequence of 
those conditions, to do this or the other tiling. 
When we examine the journal of the convention, 
we find that no mention is made of any reservation 
on the ratification of the Constitution by the State 
of Virginia. We find that Mr. Madison says, in 
his letter to Mr. Hamilton, that this idea was first 
mooted at Richmond, and was abandoned as worse 
than a rejection. His letter was written after the 


ratification of the Constitution of the United States 
by the State of Virginia : hence he spoke with a 
knowledge of the fact that no reservation was made ; 
but if it had been made by one of the parties, and 
not sanctioned by the other parties to the compact, 
what would it have amounted to ? Then we see 
that Mr. Madison repudiates the doctrine that a 
State has the right to secede. We see that his res 
olutions admit of no such construction. We see 
that Mr. Madison, in his letter to Mr. Hamilton, 
puts the interpretation that this Constitution was 
adopted in toto and forever, without reservation and 
without condition. 

I know that the inquiry may be made, how is a 
State, then, to have redress ? There is but one 
way, and that is expressed by the people of Ten 
nessee. You have entered into this compact ; it 
was mutual ; it was reciprocal ; and you of your 
own volition have no right to withdraw and break 
the compact, without the consent of the other 
parties. What remedy, then, has the State ? It 
has a remedy that remains and abides with every 
people upon the face of the earth. When griev 
ances are without a remedy, or without redress, when 
oppression becomes intolerable, they have the great, 
the inherent right of revolution. 

Sir, if the doctrine of secession is to be carried out 
upon the mere whim of a State, this Government is 
at an end. I am as much opposed to a strong, or 
what may be called by some a consolidated Govern- 


ment, as it is possible for a man to be ; but while I 
am greatly opposed to that, I want a Government 
strong enough to preserve its own existence ; that 
will not fall to pieces by its own weight or when 
ever a little dissatisfaction takes place in one of its 
members. If the States have the right to secede at 
will and pleasure, for real or imaginary evils or 
oppressions, I repeat again, this Government is at an 
end ; it is not stronger than a rope of sand ; its own 
weight will crumble it to pieces, and it cannot exist. 
Notwithstanding this doctrine may suit some who 
are engaged in this perilous and impending crisis 
that is now upon us, duty to my country, duty to my 
State, and duty to my kind, require me to avow a 
doctrine that I believe will result in the preservation 
of the Government, and to repudiate one that I be 
lieve will result in its overthrow, and the consequent 
disasters to the people of the United States. 

If a State can secede at will and pleasure, and 
this doctrine is maintained, why, I ask, on the other 
hand, as argued by Mr. Madison in one of his let 
ters, cannot a majority of the States combine and 
reject a State out of the Confederacy? Have a 
majority of these States, under the compact that they 
have made with each other, the right to combine and 
reject any one of the States from the Confederacy ? 
They have no such right ; the compact is reciprocal. 
It was ratified without reservation or condition, and 
it was ratified " in toto and forever " ; such is the 
language of James Madison ; and there is but one 


way to get out of it without the consent of the 
parties, and that is, by revolution. 

I know that some touch the subject with trem 
bling and fear. They say, here is a State that, per 
haps by this time, has seceded, or if not, she is on 
the road to secession, and we must touch this subject 
very delicately ; and that if the State secedes, con 
ceding the power of the Constitution to her to 
secede, you must talk very delicately upon the sub 
ject of coercion. I do not believe the Federal 
Government has the power to coerce a State ; for by 
the eleventh amendment of the Constitution of the 
United States it is expressly provided that you can 
not even put one of the States of this Confederacy 
before one of the courts of the country as a party. 
As a State, the Federal Government has no power 
to coerce it ; but it is a member of the compact to 
which it agreed in common with the other States, 
and this Government has the right to pass laws, and 
to enforce those laws upon individuals within the 
limits of each State. While the one proposition is 
clear, the other is equally so. This Government 
can, by the Constitution of the country and by the 
laws enacted in conformity with the Constitution, 
operate upon individuals, and has the right and the 
power, not to coerce a State, but to enforce and 
execute the law upon individuals within the limits 
of a State. 

I know that the term, " to coerce a State," is 
used in an ad captandum manner. It is a sover- 


eignty that is to be crushed ! How is a State in the 
Union ? What is her connection with it ? All the 
connection she has with the other States is that 
which is agreed upon in the compact between the 
States. I do not know whether you may consider 
it in the Union or out of the Union, or whether you 
simply consider it a connection or a disconnection 
with the other States ; but to the extent that a State 
nullifies or sets aside any law or any provision of the 
Constitution, to that extent it has dissolved its con 
nection, and no more. I think the States that have 
passed their personal-liberty bills, in violation of the 
Constitution of* the United States, coming in conflict 
with the fugitive-slave law, to that extent have dis 
solved their connection, and to that extent it is revo 
lution. But because some of the free States have 
passed laws violative of the Constitution ; because 
they have, to some extent, dissolved their connection 
with this Government, does that justify us of the 
South in following that bad example ? Because 
they have passed personal-liberty bills, and have, 
to that extent, violated the compact which is recip 
rocal, shall we turn round, on the other hand, 
and violate the Constitution by coercing them to 
a compliance with it ? Will we do so ? 

Then I come back to the starting-point: let us 
stand in the Union and upon the Constitution ; and 
if anybody is to leave this Union, or violate its 
guaranties, it shall be those who have taken the 
initiative, and passed their personal-liberty bills. I 


am in the Union, and intend to stay in it. I intend 
to hold on to the Union, and the guaranties under 
which this Union has grown ; and I do not intend 
to be driven from it, nor out of it, by their uncon 
stitutional enactments. 

Then, Mr. President, suppose, for instance, that a 
fugitive is arrested in the State of Vermont .to-mor 
row, and under the personal-liberty bill of that State, 
or the law I do not remember its precise title 
now which prevents, or is intended to prevent, 
the faithful execution of the fugitive-slave law, Ver 
mont undertakes to rescue him, and prevent the 
enforcement of the law : what is it ? It is nulli 
fication ; it is resistance to the laws of the United 
States made in conformity with the Constitution ; 
it is rebellion ; and it is the duty of the President of 
the United States to enforce the law, at all hazards 
and to the last extremity. And, if the Federal 
Government fails or refuses to execute the laws 
made in conformity with the Constitution, and those 
States persist in their violation and let those uncon 
stitutional acts remain upon their statute-books, and 
carry them into practice ; if the Government, on 
the one hand, fails to execute the laws of the United 
States, and those States, by their enactments, violate 
them on the other, the Government is at an end, 
and the parties are all released from the compact. 

Mr. COLLAMER explained that the Vermont leg 
islation, to which allusion had been made, was an 
terior to the passage of the fugitive-slave law ; and, 



besides, the laws of Vermont were referred to a 
board of revision, by which, as well as by the courts 
of that State, no enactment would be sanctioned 
that was in conflict with the Constitution of the 
United States. 

Mr. JOHNSON continued : I do not think the 
honorable Senator s explanation is entirely satisfac 
tory, inasmuch as, though one law was anterior, 
another was passed in 1858. The Senator is a 
lawyer ; he has presided in the courts of his State ; 
and he has been a long time in the councils of the 


country ; and therefore I had reason to expect a 
direct answer. 

I think it will be determined by the courts and 
by the judgment of the country, that the acts passed 
in 1850 and 1858 by the Legislature of Vermont are 
a violation, a gross, palpable violation of the Con 
stitution of the United States. It is clear and con 
clusive to my mind, that a State passing an uncon 
stitutional act intended to impede or to prevent the 
execution of a law passed by the Congress of the 
United States which is constitutional, is thereby 
placed, so far as the initiative is concerned, in a state 
of rebellion. It is an open act of nullification. I 
am not aware that there has been any attempt in 
Vermont to wrest any persons out of the hands 
of the officers of the United States, or to imprison 
or to fine any person under the operation of this 
law; but the passage of such an act is to initiate 
rebellion. I think it comes in conflict directly with 


the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United 
States, and to that extent is an act of nullification, 
and places the State in open rebellion to the United 

I have stated that there is no power conferred 
upon the Congress of the United States, by the Con 
stitution, to coerce a State in its sovereign capacity; 
that there is no power on the part of the Congress 
of the United States even to bring a State into the 
supreme tribunal of the country. You cannot put 
a State at the bar of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. The Congress of the United States 
has the power to pass laws to operate upon indi 
viduals within the limits of a State, by which all 
the functions of this Government can be executed 
and carried out ; and if Vermont, either by an act 
of secession, which I take to be unconstitutional, or 
without having first seceded from the Union of the 
States by open force, in conformity with the laws of 
the State, should resist or attempt to resist the exe 
cution of the laws of the United States, it would be 
a practical rebellion, an overt act ; and this Govern 
ment has the authority under the Constitution to 
enforce the laws of the United States, and it has the 
authority to call to its aid such means as are deemed 
necessary and proper for the execution of the laws, 
even if it were to lead to the calling out of the 
militia, or calling into service the Army and Navy 
of the United States to execute the laws. This 
principle applies to every State placing herself in an 


attitude of opposition to the execution of the laws of 
the United States. 

I do not think it necessary, in order to preserve 
this Union, or to keep a State within its sphere, that 
the Congress of the United States should have the 
power to coerce a State. All that is necessary is 
for the Government to have the power to execute 
and to carry out all the powers conferred upon it 
by the Constitution, whether they apply to the State 
or otherwise. This, I think, the Government clearly 
has the power to do ; and so long as the Government 
executes all the laws in good faith, denying the right 
of a State constitutionally to secede, so long the 
State is in the Union, and subject to all the pro 
visions of the Constitution and the laws passed in 
conformity with it. For example: the power is 
conferred on the Federal Government to carry the 
mails through the several States ; to establish post- 
offices and post-roads ; to establish courts in the re 
spective States ; to lay and collect taxes, and so on. 
The various powers are enumerated, and each and 
every one of these powers the Federal Government 
has the constitutional authority to execute w r ithin 
the limits of the States. It is not an invasion of a 
State for the Federal Government to execute its 
laws, to take care of its public property, and to en 
force the collection of its revenue ; but if, in the 
execution of the laws ; if, in the enforcement of the 
Constitution, it meets with resistance, it is the duty 
of the Government, and it has the authority, to put 


down resistance, and effectually to execute the laws 
as contemplated by the Constitution of the country. 
But this is a diversion from the line of my argu 
ment. I was going on to show that, according to 
the opinions of the fathers, not only of the country 
but of the Constitution itself, no State, of its own 
volition, has the right to withdraw from the Con 
federacy after having entered into the compact. I 
have referred to the last letter Mr. Madison wrote 
upon this subject, at least it is the last one that 
I have been able to find, in which he summed up 
this subject in a conclusive and masterly manner. 
In his letter to Mr. Webster of March 15, 1833-, 
upon the receipt of Mr. Webster s speech, after the 
excitement had subsided to some extent and the 
country had taken its stand, Mr. Madison said : 

" The Constitution of the United States being established 
by a competent authority, by that of the sovereign people of the 
several States who were parties to it, it remains only to in 
quire what the Constitution is ; and here it speaks for itself. 
It organizes a Government into the usual legislative, execu 
tive, and judiciary departments ; invests it with specified 
powers, leaving others to the parties to the Constitution. It 
makes the Government, like other governments, to operate 
directly on the people ; places at its command the needful 
physical means of executing its powers ; and finally proclaims 
its supremacy, and that of the laws made in pursuance of it, 
over the constitutions and laws of the States, the powers of the 
Government being exercised, as in other elective and respon 
sible governments, under the control of its constituents, people, 
and the legislatures of the States, and subject to the revolu 
tionary rights of the people in extreme cases. 


" Such is the Constitution of the United States de jure and 
de facto ; and the name, whatever it be, that may be given to 
it, can make it nothing more or less than what it is." 

This is clear and conclusive, so far as Mr. Madi 
son goes on the subject. I have already shown that 
in 1789, in making his report upon the Virginia 
Resolutions, he gave the true interpretation to those 
resolutions, and explained what was meant by the 
word " respective" before "States." In his letter, 
in 1882, to Mr Rives, and in his letter of 1882 to 
Mr. Trist, having had time to reflect on the opera 
tion of the various provisions of the Constitution 
upon the country, in the decline of life, when he had 
seen the experiment fairly made, when his mind was 
matured upon every single point and provision in 
the Constitution, he, at that late period, sums up the 
doctrine and comes to the conclusion that I am 
contending for on the present occasion. 

In addition to this, Mr. Jefferson, who prior to 
the formation of the Constitution was in Paris, 
writing letters on the subject of the formation of a 
stable Government here, saw the great defect in 


the Federal head under the old Articles of Confed 
eration, and he pointed with the unerring finger of 
philosophy to what is now in the Constitution, as 
what was wanting in the old Articles of Confedera 
tion. Mr. Jefferson, in his letter to Colonel Monroe, 
dated Paris, August 11, 1786, speaks thus : 

" There never will be money in the treasury till the Con 
federacy shows its teeth. The States must see the rod ; per- 


haps it must be felt by some one of them. I am persuaded all 
of them would rejoice to see every one obliged to furnish its 
contributions. It is not the difficulty of furnishing them which 
beggars the treasury, but the fear that others will not furnish 
as much. Every rational citizen must wish to see an effective 
instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other 
element than the water." 

Here Mr. Jefferson, seeing the difficulty, that 
under the old Articles of Confederation the Federal 
Government had not the power to execute its laws, 
that it could not collect revenue, points to what 
should be in the Constitution of the United States 
when formed. Mr. Jefferson, upon the same idea 
which was in his mind, and which was afterwards 
embodied in the Constitution, said, in a letter to E. 
Carrington, dated Paris, August 4, 1787 : 

" 1 confess I do not go as far in the reforms thought neces 
sary, as some of my correspondents in America ; but if the 
convention should adopt such propositions, I shall suppose them 
necessary. My general plan would be, to make the States 
one as to everything connected with foreign nations, and sev 
eral as to everything purely domestic. But, with all the imper 
fections of our present Government, it is without comparison 
the best existing, or that ever did exist. Its greatest defect 
is the imperfect manner in which matters of commerce have 
been provided for. It has been so often said, as to be gener 
ally believed, that Congress have no power by the Confedera 
tion to enforce anything for example, contributions of 
money. It was not necessary to give them that power ex 
pressly ; they have it by the law of nature. When two parties 
make a compact, there results to each a power of compelling 
the other to execute it" 

Even if it was not expressed in the Constitution, 


the power to preserve itself and maintain its au 
thority would be possessed by the Federal Govern 
ment upon the great principle that it must have the 
power to preserve its own existence. But we find 
that, in plain and express terms, this authority is 
delegated. The very powers that Mr. Jefferson 
pointed out as being wanting in the old Govern- 
inent, under the Articles of Confederation, are 
granted by the Constitution of the United States 
to the present Government by express delegation. 
Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes ; 
Congress has the power to pass laws to restore 
fugitives from labor escaping from one State into 
another ; Congress has the power to establish post- 
offices and post-roads; Congress has the power to 
establish courts in the different States ; and having 
these powers, it has the authority to do everything 
necessary to sustain the collection of the revenue, 
the enforcement of the judicial system, and the 
carrying of the mails. Because Congress, having 
the power, undertakes to execute its laws, it will 
not do to say that the Government is placed in the 
position of an aggressor. Not so. It is only act 
ing within the scope of the Constitution, and in 
compliance with its delegated powers. But a State 
that resists the exercise of those powers becomes 
the aggressor, and places itself in a rebellious or 
nullifying attitude. It is the duty of this Govern 
ment to execute its laws in good faith. When the 
Federal Government shall fail to execute all the 


laws that are made in strict conformity with the 
Constitution, when our sister States shall pass laws 
violative of that Constitution, and obstruct the laws 
of Congress passed in conformity with it, then, and 
not till then, will this Government have failed to 
accomplish the great objects of its creation. Then 
it will be at an end, and all the parties to the com 
pact will be released. 

But I wish to go a little further into the author 
ities as to the power of a State to secede from the 
Union, and to quote an opinion of Judge Marshall, 
given at a very early day. I know it is very com 
mon to denounce him as a Federalist, but I care 
not where the truth comes from ; wherever a sound 
argument may be found to sustain a proposition that 
is right in itself, I am willing to adopt it ; and I 
have put myself to the trouble to hunt up these 
unquestionable authorities on this subject, knowing 
that they would have more influence before the 
country, and before my constituents, than anything 
that I could say. Though I am not a lawyer, 
though I have not made the law my study and my 
pursuit, I claim to have some little common sense 
and understanding as to the application of general 
principles. I find that Judge Marshall, in speaking 
on the question of the right of a State upon its own 
volition to go out of the Confederacy, in the case 
of Cohens vs. Virginia, said : 

" It is very true, that whenever hostility to the existing 
system " that is, the system of our Government u shall 


become universal, it will be also irresistible. The people 
made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it." 

I care not whether he speaks here of the people 
in the aggregate or not. The application of the 
principle is just as clear, whether you say the 
people, through the States, made the Constitution, 
or leave out the qualifying words " through the 

"It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their 
will. But this supreme and irresistible power to make and 
unmake resides only in the whole body of the people; not 
in any subdivision of them. The attempt of any of the 
parts to exercise it is usurpation, and ought to be repelled by 
those to whom the people have delegated their power of repel 
ling it." ! 

Now, whether you apply that, in a general sense, 
to the people in the aggregate, or to the States oc 
cupying the same relation to the Federal Govern 
ment that the people do to the States, the principle 
is just the same ; and if you speak of States ratify 
ing and making the Constitution of the United 
States, one State one of the community that 
made the Constitution has no right, without the 
consent of the other States, to withdraw from the 
compact, and set the Constitution at naught. It is 
the principle that I seek ; and the principle applies 
as well to a community of States as it does to a 
community of individuals. Admitting that this 
Federal Government was made by a community 

1 Wheaton s Reports, Vol. VI. p. 389. 


of States, can one of that community of States, of 
its own will, without the consent of the rest, where 
the compact is reciprocal, set it aside, and withdraw 
itself from the operation of the Government? I 
have given you the opinion of Judge Marshall, one 
of the most distinguished jurists that ever presided 
in this country, though he is called by some a Fed 
eralist. His mind was clear ; he lived in that day 
when the Constitution should be understood, and 
when it was understood in the days of Madison 
and Jefferson; and this is his opinion upon that 
subject, as far back as 1821. 

In this connection, I would call the attention of 
the Senate to General Jackson s views upon this 
subject ; and I would also call their attention to 
Mr. Webster s views, if it were necessary, for he 
is conceded, by some at least, to be one of the most 
able expounders of the Constitution of the United 
States. General Jackson, though not celebrated 
for his legal attainments, was celebrated for his 
sagacity, his strong common sense, his great intui 
tive power of reaching correct conclusions, and 
understanding correct principles. In 1833, Gen 
eral Jackson, in his proclamation, takes identically 
the same ground ; and declares, first, that a State 
has no power of itself to nullify a law of Congress 
within its limits ; and next, that, notwithstanding 
a State may claim to have seceded, it has no coi 
stitutional power to withdraw itself from the Union 
of the States, and thereby set at naught the laws 


and the Constitution. He argues this question 
forcibly and clearly ; and comes to the unerring 
conclusion, according to my judgment, that no 
State has the constitutional power to withdraw it 
self from this Confederacy without the consent of 
the other States ; and it may do good to reproduce 
his views on the subject. He says, in his famous 
proclamation, speaking of the nullification ordinance 
of South Carolina : 

" And whereas the said ordinance prescribes to the people 
of South Carolina a course of conduct in direct violation of 
their duty as citizens of the United States, contrary to the 
laws of their country, subversive of its Constitution, and 
having for its object the destruction of the Union, that 
Union which, coeval with our political existence, led our 
fathers, without any other ties to unite them than those of 
patriotism and a common cause, through a sanguinary strug 
gle to a glorious independence, that sacred Union, hitherto 
inviolate, which, perfected by our happy Constitution, has 
brought us, by the favor of Heaven, to a state of prosperity 
at home, and high consideration abroad, rarely, if ever, 
equalled in the history of nations. To preserve this bond of 
our political existence from destruction; to maintain invio 
late this state of national honor and prosperity, and to justify 
the confidence my fellow-citizens have reposed in me, I, 
ANDREW JACKSON, President of the United States, have 
thought proper to issue this my proclamation, stating my 
views of the Constitution and the laws applicable to the 
measures adopted by the convention of South Carolina, and 
to the reasons thsy have put forth to sustain them, declaring 
the course which duty will require me to pursue, and, appeal 
ing to the understanding and patriotism of the people, warn 
them of the consequences that must inevitably result from 
an observance of the dictates of the convention." 


He argues* the question at length : 

" This right to secede is deduced from the nature of the 
Constitution, which, they say, is a compact between sov 
ereign States, who have preserved their whole sovereignty, 
and therefore are subject to no superior; that because they 
made the compact they can break it when, in their opinion, 
it has been departed from by the other States. Fallacious 
as this course of reasoning is, it enlists State pride, and 
finds advocates in the honest prejudices of those who have 
not studied the nature of our Government sufficiently to see 
the radical error on which it rests." 

" The people of the United States formed the Constitu 
tion, acting through the State Legislatures in making the 
compact, to meet and discuss its provisions, and acting in 
separate conventions when they ratified those provisions ; 
but the terms used in its construction show it to be a Gov 
ernment in which the people of all the States collectively 
are represented. We are ONE PEOPLE in the choice of the 
President and Vice-President. Hence the States have no 
other agency than to direct the mode in which the votes 
shall be given. The candidates having the majority of all 
the votes are chosen. The electors of a majority of the 
States may have given their votes for one candidate, and 
yet another may be chosen. The people, then, and not the 
States, are represented in the executive branch." 

" The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a 
Government, not a league ; and whether it be formed by 
compact between the States, or in any other manner, its 
character is the same. It is a Government in which all the 
people are represented; which operates directly on the 
people individually, not upon the States they retained all 
the power they did not grant. But each State having ex 
pressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly 
with the other States, a single nation, cannot, from that 


period, possess any right to secede; because* such secession 
does not break a league but destroys the unity of a nation ; 
and any injury to that unity is not only a breach, -which 
would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is 
an offence against the whole Union. To say that any State 
may, at pleasure, secede from the Union, is to say that the 
United States are not a nation ; because it would be a sole 
cism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its 
connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, 
without committing any offence. Secession, like any other 
revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity 
of oppression ; but to call it a constitutional right, is con 
founding the meaning of terms, and can only be done 
through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to 
assert a right but would pause before they made a revolu 
tion, or incurred the penalties consequent on a failure. 

" Because the Union was formed by compact, it is said 
the parties to that compact may, when they feel themselves 
aggrieved, depart from it ; but it is precisely because it is 
a compact that they cannot. A compact is an agreement 
or binding obligation. It may by its terms have a sanction 
or penalty for its breach, or it may not. If it contains no 
sanction, it may be broken, with no other consequence than 
moral guilt; if it have a sanction, then the breach insures 
the designated or implied penalty. A league between in 
dependent nations, generally, has no sanction other than a 
moral one ; or if it should contain a penalty, as there is no 
common superior, it cannot be enforced. A Government, 
on the contrary, always has a sanction expressed or implied ; 
and, in our case, it is both necessarily implied and expressly 
given. An attempt, by force of arms, to destroy a Govern 
ment, is an offence by whatever means the constitutional 
compact may have been formed, and such Government has 
the right, by the law of self-defence, to pass acts for punish 
ing the offender, unless that right is modified, restrained, or 


resumed by the constitutional act. In our system, although 
it is modified in the case of treason, yet authority is expressly 
given to pass all laws necessary to carry its powers into effect, 
and under this grant, provision has been made for punishing 
acts which obstruct the due administration of the laws." . . . 
" It treats, as we have seen, on the alleged undivided sover 
eignty of the States, and on their having formed, in this 
sovereign capacity, a compact which is called the Consti 
tution, from which, because they made it, they have the 
right to secede. Both of these positions are erroneous, and 
some of the arguments to prove them so have been antici 

" The States, severally, have not retained their entire 
sovereignty. It has been shown that in becoming parts of 
a nation, not members of a league, they surrendered many 
of their essential parts of sovereignly. The right to make 
treaties, declare war, levy taxes, exercise exclusive judi 
cial and legislative powers, were all of them functions of 
sovereign power. The States, then, for all these purposes, 
were no longer sovereign. The allegiance of their citizens 
was transferred, in the first instance, to the Government of 
the United States : they became American citizens, and 
owed obedience to the Constitution of the United States, 
and to laws made in conformity with the powers it vested 
in Congress. This last position has not been, and cannot 
be, denied. How, then, can that State be said to be sov 
ereign and independent whose citizens owe obedience to 
laws not made by it, and whose magistrates are sworn to 
disregard those laws when they come in conflict with those 
passed by another ? What shows conclusively that the 
States cannot be said to have reserved an undivided sov 
ereignty is, that they expressly ceded the right to punish 
treason, not treason against their separate power, but trea 
son against the United States. Treason is an offence against 
sovereignty, and sovereignty must reside with the power to 


punish it. But the reserved rights of the States are not 
less sacred because they have, for their common interest, 
made the General Government the depository of those 


" So obvious are the reasons which forbid this secession, 
that it is necessary only to allude to them. The Union was 
formed for the benefit of all. It was produced by mutual 
sacrifices of interest and opinions. Can these sacrifices be 
recalled ? Can the States, who magnanimously surrendered 
their title to the territories of the West, recall the grant ? 
Will the inhabitants of the inland States agree to pay the 
duties that may be imposed without their assent by those 
on the Atlantic or the Gulf for their own benefit ? Shall 
there be a free port in one State, and onerous duties in 
another ? No man believes that any right exists in a single 
State to involve all the others in these and countless other 
evils, contrary to the engagement solemnly made. Every 
one must see that the other States, in self-defence, must 
oppose it at all hazards." 

Having travelled thus far, the question arises, 
in what sense are we to construe the Constitution 
of the United States ? I assume what is assumed 
in one of Mr. Madison s letters, that the Consti 
tution was formed for perpetuity ; that it never 
was intended to be broken up. It was commenced, 
it is true, as an experiment ; but the founders of 
the Constitution intended that this experiment 
should go on ; and by way of making it perpetual, 
they provided for its amendment. They provided 
that this instrument could be amended and im 
proved, from time to time, as the changing cir 
cumstances, as the changing pursuits, as the 


changing notions of men might require ; but they 
made no provision whatever for its destruction. 
The old Articles of Confederation were formed for 
the purpose of making " a perpetual union." In 
1787, when the convention concluded their delib 
erations and adopted the Constitution, what do 
they say in the very preamble of that Constitu 
tion ? Having in their mind the idea that was 
shadowed forth in the old Articles of Confedera 
tion, that the Union was to be perpetual, they 
say, at the commencement, that it is to make " a 
more perfect union " than the union under the old 
Articles of Confederation, which they called " per 

What furthermore do we find ? The Constitu 
tion of the United States contains a provision 
that it is to be submitted to the States respec 
tively for their jjatification ; but on nine States rati 
fying it, it shall be the Constitution for them. In 
that way the Government was created ; and in 
that way provision was made to perfect it. What 
more do we find ? The Constitution, as I have 
just remarked, provides for its own amendment, 
its improvement, its perpetuation, by pointing out 
and by prescribing the mode and manner in which 
improvements shall be made. That still preserves 
the idea that it is to be perpetual. We find, in 
addition, a provision that Congress shall have power 
to admit new States. 

Hence, in travelling along through the instru- 


ment, we find how the Government is created, how 
it is to be perpetuated, and how it may be enlarged 
in reference to the number of States constituting 
the Confederacy ; but do we find any provision 
for winding it up, except on that great inherent 
principle that it may be wound up by the States 
not by a State, but by the States which brought 
it into existence and by no other means ? That 
is a means of taking down the Government that 
the Constitution could not provide for. It is above 
the Constitution ; it is beyond any provision that 
can be made by mortal man. 

Now, to expose the absurdity of the pretension 
that there is a right to secede, let me press this 
argument a little further. The Constitution has 
been formed ; it has been made perfect, or, in other 
words, means have been provided by which it can 
be made perfect. It was intended *o be perpetual. 
In reference to the execution of the laws under it, 
what do we find ? As early as 1795, Congress 
passed an excise law, taxing distilleries throughout 
the country, and what were called the whiskey boys 
of Pennsylvania resisted the law. The Govern 
ment wanted means. It taxed distilleries. The 
people of Pennsylvania resisted it. What is the 
difference between a portion of the people resist 
ing a constitutional law, and all of the people of a 
State doing so ? But because you can apply the 
term coercion in one case to a State, and in the 
other call it simply the execution of the law against 


individuals, you say there is a great distinction ! 
We do not assume the power to coerce a State, 
but we assume that Congress has power to lay and 
collect taxes, and Congress has the right to enforce 
that law when obstructions and impediments are 
opposed to its enforcement. The people of Penn 
sylvania did object ; they did resist and oppose the 
legal authorities of the country. Was that law 
enforced ? Was it called coercion at that day to 
enforce it ? Suppose all the people of the State 
of Pennsylvania had resisted ; would not the law 
have applied with just the same force, and would 
it not have been just as constitutional to execute it 
against all the people of the State, as it was to 
execute it upon a part of their citizens ? 

George Washington, in his annual message to 
the Congress of the United States, referred to the 
subject ; and it will be seen what George Washing 
ton considered to be his duty in the execution of 
the laws of the United States upon the citizens 
of the States : 

" Thus the painful alternative could not be discarded. I 
ordered the militia to march, after once more admonishing 
the insurgents, in my proclamation of the 25th of Septem 
ber last. 

" It was a task too difficult, to ascertain with precision the 
lowest degree of force competent to the quelling of the insur 
rection. From a respect, indeed, to economy, and the ease 
of my fellow-citizens belonging to the militia, it would have 
gratified me to accomplish such an estimate. My very reluc 
tance to ascribe too much importance to the opposition, had 


its extent been accurately seen, would have been a decided 
inducement to the smallest efficient numbers. In this un 
certainty, therefore, I put in motion fifteen thousand men, as 
being an army which, according to all human calculation, 
would be prompt and adequate in every view, and might, 
perhaps, by rendering resistance desperate, prevent the effu 
sion of blood. Quotas had been assigned to the States of 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia ; the 
Governor of Pennsylvania having declared, on this occasion, 
an opinion which justified a requisition to the other States. 

" As Commander-in-chief of the militia, when called into 
the actual service of the United States, I have visited the 
places of general rendezvous, to obtain more exact informa 
tion, and to direct a plan for ulterior movements. Had there 
been room for persuasion that the laws were secure from ob 
struction ; that the civil magistrate was able to bring to justice 
such of the most culpable as have not embraced the proffered 
terms of amnesty, and may be deemed fit objects of example ; 
that the friends to peace and good government were not in 
need of that aid and countenance which they ought always 
to receive, and, T trust, ever will receive, against the vicious 
and turbulent; I should have caught with avidity the op 
portunity of restoring the militia to their families and homes. 
But succeeding intelligence has tended to manifest the neces 
sity of what has been done ; it being now confessed by those 
who were not inclined to exaggerate the ill conduct of the 
insurgents, that their malevolence was not pointed merely to 
a particular law, but that a spirit inimical to all order has 
actuated many of the offenders. If the state of things had 
afforded reason for the continuance of my presence with 
the army, it would not have been withholden. But every 
appearance assuring such an issue as will redound to the rep 
utation and strength of the United States, I have judged it 
most proper to resume my duties at the seat of Government, 
leaving the chief command with the Governor of Virginia." . . . 

" While there is cause to lament that occurrences of this 


nature should have disgraced the name or interrupted the 
tranquillity of any part of our community, or should have 
diverted to a new application any portion of the public re 
sources, there are not wanting real and substantial consolations 
for the misfortune. It has demonstrated that our prosperity 
rests on solid foundations, by furnishing an additional proof 
that my fellow-citizens understand the true principles of gov 
ernment and liberty ; that they feel their inseparable union ; 
that, notwithstanding all the devices which have been used 
to sway them from their interest and duty, they are now as 
ready to maintain the authority of the laws against licentious 
invasions as they were to defend their rights against usurpa 
tion. It has been a spectacle, displaying to the highest ad 
vantage the value of republican government, to behold the 
most and the least wealthy of our citizens standing in the same 
ranks as private soldiers, preeminently distinguished by being 
the army of the Constitution, undeterred by a march of three 
hundred miles over rugged mountains, by the approach of an 
inclement season, or by any other discouragement. Nor ought 
I to omit to acknowledge the efficacious and patriotic coopera 
tion which I have experienced from the Chief Magistrates of 
the States to which my requisitions have been addressed." * 

President Washington thought there was power 
in this Government to execute its laws ; he con 
sidered the militia the army of the Constitution ; 
and he refers to this Union as being inseparable. 
This is the way that the laws were executed by the 
Father of his Country, the man who sat as president 
of the convention that made the Constitution. Here 
was resistance interposed opposition to the exe 
cution of the laws ; and George Washington, then 
President of the United States, went in person at 

1 American State Papers, Miscellaneous, Vol. I. p. 85. 


the head of the militia ; and it showed his sagacity, 
his correct comprehension of men, and the effect 
that an immediate movement of that kind would 
have upon them. He ordered fifteen thousand of 
his countrymen to the scene of action, and went 
there in person, and stayed there till he was satis 
fied that the insurrection was quelled. That is the 
manner in which George Washington put down 
rebellion. That is the manner in which he exe 
cuted the laws. 

Here, then, we find General Washington exe 
cuting the law, in 1795, against a portion of the 
citizens of Pennsylvania who rebelled ; and, I re 
peat the question, where is the difference between 
executing the law upon a part and upon the whole? 
Suppose the whole of Pennsylvania had rebelled 
and resisted the excise law ; had refused to pay 
taxes on distilleries ; was it not as competent and 
as constitutional for General Washington to have 
executed the law against the whole as against a 
part ? Is there any difference ? Governmental 
affairs must be practical as well as our own do 
mestic affairs. You may make nice metaphysical 
distinctions between the practical operations of 
Government and its theory ; you may refine upon 
what is a State, and point out a difference between 
a State and a portion of a State ; but what is it 
when you reduce it to practical operation, and 
square it by common sense ? 

In 1832, resistance was interposed to laws of 


the United States in another State. An ordinance 
was passed by South Carolina, assuming to act as 
a sovereign State, to nullify a law of the United 
States. In 1833, the distinguished man who filled 
the executive chair, who now lies in his silent 
grave, loved and respected for* his virtue, his honor, 
his integrity, his patriotism, his undoubted courage, 
and his devotion to his kind, with an eye single to 
the promotion of his country s best interests, issued 
the proclamation, extracts from which I have already 
presented. He was sworn to support the Consti 
tution, and to see that the laws were faithfully 
executed ; and he fulfilled the obligation. He 
took all the steps necessary to secure the execution 
of the law, and he would have executed it by the 
power of the Government if the point of time had 
arrived when it was necessary to resort to power. 
We can see that he acted upon principles similar 
to those acted upon by General Washington. He 
took the precaution of ordering a force there 
sufficient for the purpose of enabling him to say 
effectually to the rebellious, and those who were 
interposing opposition to the execution of the laws, 
" The laws which we made according to the Con 
stitution, the laws that provide for the collection 
of the revenue to sustain this Government, must be 
enforced, and the revenue must be collected. It is 
a part of the compact ; it is a part of the engage 
ment you have undertaken to perform, and you of 
your own will have no power or authority to set 


it aside." The duties were collected ; the law was 
enforced ; and the Government went on. In his 
proclamation he made a powerful appeal. He told 
them what would be done ; and it would have been 
done, as certain as God rules on high, if the time 
had arrived which made it necessary. 

Then we see where General Washington stood, 
and where General Jackson stood. Now, how 
does the present case stand ? The time has come 
when men should speak out. Duties are mine ; 
consequences are God s. I intend to discharge 
my duty, and I intend to avow my understanding 
of the Constitution and the laws of the country. 
Have we no authority or power to execute the 
laws in the State of South Carolina as well as in 
Vermont and Pennsylvania ? I think we have. 
As I before said, although a State may, by an ordi 
nance, or by a resolve, or by an act of any other 
kind, declare that they absolve their citizens from all 
allegiance to this Government, it does not release 
them from the compact. The compact is reciprocal ; 
and they, in coming into it, undertook to perform 
certain duties and abide by the laws made in con 
formity with the compact. Now, sir, what is the 
Government to do in South Carolina ? If South 
Carolina undertakes to drive the Federal courts out 
of that State, the Federal Government has the 
right to hold those courts there. She may attempt 
to exclude the mails, yet the Federal Government 
has the right to establish post-offices and pos.t-roads 


and to carry the mails there. She may resist the 
collection of revenue at Charleston, or any other 
point that the Government has provided for its 
collection ; but the Government has the right to col 
lect it and to enforce the law. She may undertake 
to take possession of the property beloriging to the 
Government which was originally ceded by the 
State, but the Federal Government has the right 
to provide the means for retaining possession of that 
property. If she makes an advance either to dis 
possess the Government of that which it has pur 
chased, or to resist the execution of the revenue 
laws, or of our judicial system, or the carrying of 
the mails, or the exercise of any other power con 
ferred on the Federal Government, she puts herself 
in the wrong, and it will be the duty of the Gov 
ernment to see* that the laws are faithfully exe 
cuted. By reference to the records, it will be 
seen that, on 

" December 19, 1805, South Carolina granted all the right, 
title, and claim of the State to all the lands reserved for Fort 
Moultrie, on Sullivan s Island, not exceeding five acres, with 
all the forts, fortifications, &c., thereon; canal, &c. ; the high 
lands, and part of the rnarsh, belonging to Fort Johnson, not 
exceeding twenty acres ; the land on which Fort Pinckney is 
built, and three acres around it ; a portion of the sandbank on 
the southeasternmost point of Charleston, not exceeding two 
acres ; not exceeding four acres for a battery, or fort, &c., on 
Blythe s Point, at the mouth of Sampit River ; Mustard Island, 
in Beaufort River, opposite Paris s Island ; not exceeding seven 
acres of land on St. Helena Island, for a principal fort ; the 
whole on condition that the United States should, within three 


years, repair forts, &c. ; the United States to compensate indi 
viduals for property ; the lands, &c., to be free from taxes to 
the State." 

Here is a clear deed of cession. The Federal 
Government has complied with all the conditions, 
and has, in its own right, the land on which these 
forts are constructed. The conditions of the ces 
sion have been complied with ; and the Government 
has had possession from that period to the present 
time. There are its forts ; there is its arsenal ; 
there are its dock-yards ; there is the property of 
the Government ; and now, under the Constitution, 
and under the laws made in pursuance thereof, has 
South Carolina the authority and the right to expel 
the Federal Government from its own property that 
has been given to it by her own act, and of which it 
is now in possession ? By resisting the execution 
of the laws, by attempting to dispossess the Fed 
eral Government, does she not put herself in the 
wrong ? Does she not violate the laws of the United 
States ? Does she not violate the Constitution ? 
Does she not put herself, within the meaning and 
purview of the Constitution, in the attitude of levy-, 
ing war against the United States ? The Constitu 
tion defines and declares what is treason. Let us 
talk about things by their right names. I know 
that some hotspur or madcap may declare that these 
are not times for a government of law ; that we are 
in a revolution. I know that Patrick Henry once 
said, " If this be treason, make the most of it." If 


anything can be treason in the scope and purview 
of the Constitution, is not levying war upon the 
United States treason ? Is not an attempt to take 
its property treason ? Is not an attempt to expel 
its soldiers treason ? Is not an attempt to resist the 
collection of the revenue, or to expel your mails, or 
to drive your courts from her borders, treason ? It 
is treason, and nothing but treason ; and if one 
State, upon its own volition, can go out of this Con 
federacy without regard to the effect it is to have 
upon the remaining parties to the compact, what is 
your Government worth ? What will it come to ? 
In what will it end ? It is no Government at all 
upon such a construction. 

But it is declared and assumed that, if a State 
secedes, she is no longer a member of the Union, 
and that, therefore, the laws and the Constitution 
of the United States are no longer operative within 
her limits, and she is not guilty if she violates them. 
This is a matter of opinion. I have tried to show 
what this doctrine of secession is, and there is but 
one concurring and unerring conclusion reached by 
all the great and distinguished men of the country, 
from the origin of the Government clown to the 
present time. Madison, who is called the Father 
of the Constitution, denies the doctrine. Washing 
ton, who was the Father of his Country, denies the 
doctrine. Jefferson, Jackson, Clay, and Webster, 
all deny the doctrine ; and yet all at once it is dis 
covered and ascertained that a State, of its own 


volition, can go out of this Confederacy, without 
regard to consequences, without regard to the in 
jury and woe that may be inflicted on the remain 
ing members from the act ! 

Suppose this doctrine to be true, Mr. President, 
that a State can withdraw from this Confederacy ; 
and suppose South Carolina has seceded, and is 
now out of the Confederacy : in what an attitude 
does she place herself? There might be circum 
stances under which the States ratifying the com 
pact might tolerate the secession of a State, she tak 
ing the consequences of the act. But there might 
be other circumstances under which the States 
could not allow one to secede. Why do I say so ? 
Some suppose and it is a well-founded supposi 
tion that by the secession of a State all the re 
maining States might be involved in disastrous con 
sequences ; they might be involved in war ; and by 
the secession of one State, the existence of the re 
maining States might be involved. Then, without 
regard to the Constitution, dare the other States 
permit one to secede when it endangers and involves 
all the remaining States ? The question arises in 
this connection, whether the States are in a condi 
tion to tolerate or will tolerate the secession of 
South Carolina. That is a matter to be determined 
by the circumstances ; that is a matter to be deter 
mined by the emergency ; that is a matter to be 
determined when it comes up. It is a question 
which must be left open to be determined by the 


surrounding circumstances, when the occasion 

But conceding, for argument s sake, the doctrine 
of secession, and admitting that the State of South 
Carolina is now upon your coast, a foreign Power, 
absolved from all connection with the Federal Gov 
ernment, out of the Union : what then ? There 
was a doctrine inculcated in 1823, by Mr. Monroe, 
that this Government, keeping in view the safety of 
the people and the existence of our institutions, 
wouM permit no European Power to plant any 
more colonies on this continent. Now, suppose that 
South Carolina is outside of the Confederacy, and 
this Government is in possession of the fact that she 
is forming an alliance with a foreign Power with 
France, with England, with Russia, with Austria, 
or with all of the principal Powers of Europe ; that 
there is to be a great naval station established there; 
an immense rendezvous for their army, with a view 
to ulterior objects, with a view of making advances 
upon the rest of these States : let me ask the Senate, 
let me ask the country, if they dare permit it ? 
Under and in compliance with the great law of 
self-preservation, we dare not let her do it ; and if 
she were a sovereign Power to-day, outside of the 
Confederacy, and were forming an alliance that we 
deemed inimical to our institutions and the exist 
ence of our Government, we should have a right to 
conquer and hold her as a province, a term which 
is used with so much scorn. 


Mr. President, I have referred to the manner in 
which this Government was formed. I have re 
ferred to the provision of the Constitution which 
provides for the admission of new States. Now, let 
me ask, can any one believe that, in the creation 
of this Government, its founders intended that it 
should have the power to acquire territory and form 
it into States, and then permit them to go out of 
the Union ? Let us take a case. How long has 
it been since your armies were in Mexico ? How 
long since your brave men were exposed t<f the 
diseases, the privations, the sufferings, which are in 
cident to a campaign of that kind ? How long since 
they were bearing your eagles in a foreign land, 
many of them falling at the point of the bayonet, 
consigned to their long, narrow home, with no wind 
ing-sheet but their blankets saturated with their 
blood ? How many victories did they win ? How 
many laurels did they acquire ? How many trophies 
did they bring back ? The country is full of them. 
What did it cost you ? One hundred and twenty 
million dollars. What did you pay for the country 
you acquired, besides ? Fifteen million dollars. 
Peace was made ; territory was acquired ; and, in 
a few years, from that territory California erected 
herself into a free and independent State, and, 
under the provisions of the Constitution, we ad 
mitted her as a member of this Confederacy. After 
having expended 1120,000,000 in the war ; after 
having lost many of our bravest and most gallant 


men ; after having paid 815,000,000 to Mexico for 
the territory, and admitted it into the Union as a 
State, now that the people of California have got 
into the Confederacy and can stand alone, according 
to this modern doctrine, your Government was just 
made to let them in, and then to let them step out. 
Is not the conclusiorir illogical ? Is it not absurd 


to say, that, now that California is in, she, on her 
own volition, without regard to the consideration 
paid for her, without regard to the policy which 
dictated her acquisition by the United States, can 
walk out and bid you defiance ? Is it not an ab 
surdity, if you take the reason and object of Gov 
ernment ? 

But we need not stop here ; let us go to Texas. 
Texas was engaged in a revolution with Mexico. 
She succeeded in the assertion and establishment of 
her independence ; and she became a sovereign and 
independent Power outside of this Union. She ap 
plied for admission, and she was admitted into this 
family of States. After she was in, she was op 
pressed by the debts of her war which resulted in 
her separation from Mexico ; she was harassed by 
the Indians upon her border ; and in 1850, by way 
of relief to Texas, what did we do ? There was an 
extent of territory that lies north, if my memory 
serves me right, embracing what is now called the 
Territory of New Mexico. Texas had it not in her 
power to protect the citizens that were there. It 
was a dead limb, paralyzed, lifeless. The Federal 


Government came along as a kind physician, saying, 
* We will take this dead J[imb from your body, and 
vitalize it, by giving protection to the people, and 
incorporating it into a territorial government ; and, 
in addition to that, we will give you $10,000,000, 
and you may retain your own public lands " ; and 
the other States were taxed in common to pay the 
$10,000,000. Now, after all this is done, Texas, 
forsooth, upon her own volition, is to say, " I will 
walk out of this Union ! " Were there no other 
parties to that compact? We are told the compact 
is reciproca". Did we take in^ California, did we 
take in Te^ as, just to benefit them ? No ; but to 
add to this reat family of States ; and it is apparent, 
from the fa< t of their coming in, that the compact is 
reciprocal; and having entered into the compact, 
they have ] o right to withdraw without the consent 
of the rem? ning States. 

Again : t ike the case of Louisiana. What did we 
pay for her in 1803, and for what was she wanted ? 
Just to get Louisiana into the Confederacy ! Just 
for the benefit of that particular locality I Was not 
the mighty West looked to ? Was is not to secure 
the free navigation of the Mississippi River, the 
mouth of which was then in possession of France, 
shortly before of Spain, passing about between those 
two Powers ? Yes, the navigation of that river was 
wanted. Simply for Louisiana ? No, but for all the 
States. The United States paid 115,000,000, and 
France ceded the country to the United States. It 


remained in a territorial condition for a while, sus 
tained and protected by the strong arm of the Fed 
eral Government. We acquired the territory and 
the navigation of the river ; and the money was 
paid for the benefit of all the States, and not of Lou 
isiana exclusively. And now that this great valley 
is filled up ; now that the navigation of the Missis 
sippi is one hundred times more important than it 
was then ; now, after the United States have paid 
the money, have acquired the title to Louisiana, 
and have incorporated her into the Confederacy, 
it is proposed that she shall go out of the Union ! 
In 1815, when her shores were invaded ; when her 
city was about to be sacked ; when her booty and 
her beauty were about to fall a prey to British ag 
gression, the brave men of Tennessee, and of Ken 
tucky, and of the surrounding States, rushed into 
her borders and upon her shores, and, under the 
lead of their own gallant Jackson, drove the invad 
ing forces away. And now, after all this ; after the 
money has been paid ; after the free navigation of 
the river has been obtained, not for the benefit of 
Louisiana alone, but for her in common with all the 
States, Louisiana says to the other States, " We 
will go out of this Confederacy ; we do not care if 
you did fight our battles ; we do not care if you did 
acquire the free navigation of this river from France ; 
we will go out if we think proper, and constitute 
ourselves an independent Power, and bid defiance 
to the other States." It is an absurdity ; it is a con- 


tradiction ; it is illogical ; it is not deducible from 
the structure of the Government itself. 

It may be that, at this moment, there is not a 
citizen in the State of Louisiana who would think 
of obstructing the free navigation of the river ; but 
are not nations controlled by their interests in vary 
ing circumstances ? It strikes me so ; and here 
after, when a conflict of interest arises ; when dif 
ficulty may spring up between two separate Powers, 
Louisiana, having the control of the mouth of the 
river, might feel disposed to tax our citizens going 
down there. It is a power that I am not willing to 
concede to be exercised at the discretion of any au 
thority outside of this Government. So sensitive 
have been the people of my State upon the free 
navigation of that river, that as far back as 1796, 
now sixty-four years ago, in their Bill of Rights, 
before they passed under the jurisdiction of the 
United States, they declared, 

" That an equal participation of the free navigation of the 
Mississippi is one of the inherent rights of the citizens of this 
State ; it cannot, therefore, be conceded to any prince, poten 
tate, Power, person, or persons whatever." 

This shows the estimate that the people fixed on 
this stream sixty-four years ago ; and now we are 
told, if Louisiana does go out, it is not her intention 
at this time to tax the people above. Who can tell 
what may be the intention of Louisiana hereafter ? 
Are we willing to place the rights, the travel, and 
the commerce of our citizens at the discretion of 


any Power outside of this Government? I will 

How long has it been since Florida lay on our 
coasts, an annoyance to us ? And now she has got 
entirely feverish about being an independent and 
separate Government, while she has not as many 
qualified voters as there are in one congressional 
district of any other State. What condition did 
Florida occupy in 1811 ? She was in the possession 
of Spain. What did the United States think about 
having adjacent territory outside of their jurisdic 
tion ? Let us turn to the authorities, and see what 
proposition they were willing to act upon. I find, 
in the statutes of the United States, this joint reso 
lution : 

" Taking into view the peculiar situation of Spain, and of 
her American provinces, and considering the influence which 
the destiny of the territory adjoining the Southern border of 
the United States may have upon their security, tranquillity, 
and commerce : Therefore, 

"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the 
United States, under the peculiar circumstances of the exist 
ing crisis, cannot, without serious inquietude, see any part of 
the said territory pass into the hands of any foreign Power ; 
and that a due regard to their own safety compels them to 
provide, under certain contingencies, for the temporary occupa 
tion of the said territory. They, at the same time, declare 
that the said territory shall, in their hands, remain subject to 
future negotiation." 

What principle is set forth there ? Florida was 
in the possession of Spain. English spies were har- 


bored in her territory. Spain was inimical to the 
United States ; and in view of the great principle 
of self-preservation, the Congress of the United 
States passed a resolution declaring that if Spain 
attempted to transfer Florida into the hands of any 
other Power, the United States would take posses 
sion of it. Yet Congress were gracious and con 
descending enough to say that it should remain 
open to future negotiation. That is to say, " Here 
after, if we can make a negotiation that will suit 
us, we will make it ; if we do not, we will keep the 
territory " ; that is all. There was the territory 
lying upon our border, outside of the jurisdiction 
of the United States ; and we declared, by an act 
of Congress, that no foreign Power should pos 
sess it. 

We went still further and appropriated 8100,000, 
and authorized the President to enter and take pos 
session of it with the means placed in his hands. 
Afterwards, we negotiated with Spain, and gave 
$6,000,000 for the territory ; and we established a 
territorial government for it. What next ? We 
undertook to drive out the Seminole Indians, and 
we had a war in which this Government lost more 
than it lost in all the other wars it was engaged in ; 
and we paid the sum of $25,000,000 to get the 
Seminoles out of the swamps, so that the territory 
could be inhabited by white men. We paid for it, 
we took possession of it ; and I remember, when I 
was in the other House, and Florida was knocking 


at the door for admission, how extremely anxious 
her then able Delegate was to be admitted. He 
now sits before me. 1 I remember how important 
he thought it was then to come under the protect 
ing wing of the United States as one of the stars of 
our Confederacy. But now the territory is paid 
for, England is driven out, $25,000,000 have been 
expended ; and they want no longer the protection 
of this Government, but will go out without con 
sulting the other States, without reference to the 
effect upon the remaining parties to the compact. 
Where will she go ? Will she attach herself to Spain 
again ? Will she pass back under the jurisdiction 
of the Seminoles ? After having been nurtured 
and protected and fostered by all these States, now, 
without regard to them, is she to be allowed, at her 
own volition, to withdraw from the Union ? I say 
she has no constitutional right to do it ; and when she 
does it, it is an act of aggression. If she succeeds, 
it will only be a successful revolution. If she does 
not succeed, she must take the penalties and terrors 
of the law. 

But, sir, there is another question that suggests 
itself in this connection. Kansas, during the last 
Congress, applied for admission into this Union. 
She assumed to be a State, and the difficulty in the 
way was a provision in her constitution, and the 
manner of its adoption. We did not let Kansas in. 
We did not question her being a State ; but on ac- 

i Mr. Yulee. 


count of the manner of forming her constitution and 
its provisions, we kept Kansas out. What is Kan 
sas now ? Is she a State, or is she a Territory ? 
Does she revert back to her territorial condition of 
pupilage ? Or, having been a State, and having 
applied for admission and been refused, is she stand 
ing out a State ? You hold her as a Territory ; you 
hold her as a province. You prescribe the mode of 
electing the members of her Legislature, and pay 
them out of your own treasury. Yes, she is a 
province controlled by Federal authority, and her 
laws are made in conformity with the acts of Con 
gress. Is she not a Territory ? I think she is. 

Suppose the State of California withdraws from 
the Union. We admitted her. She was territory 
acquired by the United States, by our blood and our 
treasure. Now, suppose she withdraws from the 
Confederacy : does she pass back into a territorial 
condition, remain a dependency upon the Federal 
Government, or does she stand out as a separate 
government ? Let me take Louisiana, for which we 
paid $15,000,000. That was a Territory for a 
number of years yes, a province. It is only an 
other name for a province. It is a possession held 
under the jurisdiction of the United States. We 
admitted Louisiana into the Union as a State. Sup 
pose we had refused to admit her : would she not 
still have remained a Territory ? Would she not 
have remained under the protection of the United 
States ? But now, if she has the power to with- 


draw from the Union, does she not pass back into 
the condition in which she was before we admitted 
her into the Union ? In what condition does she 
place herself? When those States which were at 
first Territories cease their connection with this 
Government, do they pass back into the territorial 
condition ? When Florida is going out, when Louis 
iana is going out, and these other States that were 
originally Territories go out of the Union, in what 
condition do they place themselves ? Are they Ter 
ritories or States ? Are they merely on probation 
to become members of this Confederacy, or are they 
States outside of the Confederacy ? 

I have referred to the acts of Congress for ac 
quiring Florida as setting forth a principle. Let me 
read another of those acts : 

" An Act to enable the President of the United States, under 
certain contingencies, to take possession of the country 
lying east of the river Perdido, and south of the State of 
Georgia and the Mississippi Territory, and for other pur 

" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives 
of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That 
the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, 
authorized to take possession of and occupy all or any part of 
the territory lying east of the river Perdido, and south of the 
State of Georgia and the Mississippi Territory, in case an 
arrangement has been or shall be made with the local authori 
ties of the said territory for the delivering up the possession of 
the same, or any part thereof, to the United States, or in the 
event of an attempt to occupy the said territory or any part 
thereof by any foreign Government ; and he may, for the 


purpose of taking possession and occupying the territory afore 
said, in order to maintain therein the authority of the United 
States t employ any part of the army and navy of the United 
States which he may deem necessary." 

What is the principle avowed here ? That from 
the geographical relations of this territory to the 
United States, from its importance to the safety and 
security of the institutions of the United States, we 
authorized the President to expend $100,000 to get 
a foothold there, and especially to take possession of 
it if it were likely to pass to any foreign Power. 
We see the doctrine and principle there established 
and acted upon by our Government. 

This principle was again avowed by distinguished 
men at Ostend. A paper was drawn up there by 
Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Soule of Louisiana, and Mr. 
Mason of Virginia, our ministers to the three prin 
cipal Courts in Europe. They met at Ostend and 
drew up a paper in which they laid down certain 
doctrines in strict conformity with the act of Con 
gress that I have just read. They say in that paper, 
signed by James Buchanan, J. Y. Mason, and Pierre 

" Then, 1. It must be clear to every reflecting mind, that, 
from the peculiarity of its geographical position, and the con 
siderations attendant on it, Cuba is as necessary to the North 
American Republic as any of its present members, and that it 
belongs naturally to that great family of States. of which the 
Union is the providential nursery. 

" From its locality it commands the mouth of the Mississippi, 
and the immense and annually increasing trade which must 
seek this avenue to th.e ocean. 


" On the numerous navigable streams, measuring an aggre 
gate course of some thirty thousand miles, which disembogue 
themselves through this magnificent river into the Gulf of 
Mexico, the increase of the population within the last ten 
years amounts to more than that of the entire Union at the time 
Louisiana was annexed to it. 

" The natural and main outlet to the products of this entire 
population, the highway of their direct intercourse with the 
Atlantic and Pacific States, can never be secure, but must 
ever be endangered while Cuba is a dependency of a distant 
power in whose possession it has proved to be a source of con 
stant annoyance and embarrassment to their interests." .... 

" The system of immigration and labor lately organized 
within its limits, and the tyranny and oppression which 
characterize its immediate rulers, threaten an insurrection at 
any moment which may result in direful consequences to the 
American people. 

" Cuba has thus become to us an unceasing danger, and a 
permanent cause of anxiety and alarm." 

" Self-preservation is the first law of nature, with States as 
well as with individuals. All nations have, at different periods, 
acted upon this maxim. Although it has been made the pre 
text for committing flagrant injustice, as in the partition of 
Poland, and other similar cases which history records, yet the 
principle itself, though often abused, has always been recog 
nized." " Our past history forbids 

that we should acquire the Island of Cuba without the consent 
of Spain, unless justified by the great law of self-preservation. 
We must, in any event, preserve our own conscious rectitude, 
and our own self-respect." 

Mark you, we are never to acquire Cuba unless 
it is necessary to our self-preservation. 

" While pursuing this course we can afford to disregard the 
censures of the world, to which we have been so often and so 
unjustly exposed. 



" After we shall have offered Spain a price for Cuba far 
beyond its present value, and this shall have been refused, it 
will then be time to consider the question does Cuba, in the 
possession of Spain, seriously endanger our internal peace and 
the existence of our cherished Union ? 

" Should this question be answered in the affirmative, then, 
by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in 
wresting it from Spain, if we possess the power ; and this upon 
the very same principle that would justify an individual in 
tearing down the burning house of his neighbor, if there were 
no other means of preventing the flames from destroying his 
own home." 

Now, this is all pretty sound doctrine. I am for 
all of it. 

" Under such circumstances we ought neither to count the 
cost nor regard the odds which Spain might enlist against us. 
"We forbear to enter into the question, whether the present 
condition of the island would justify such a measure ? We 
should, however, be recreant to our duty, be unworthy of our 
gallant forefathers, and commit base treason against our 
posterity, should we permit Cuba to be Africanized and 
become a second St. Domingo, with all its attendant horrors 
to the white race, and suffer the flames to extend to our own 
neighboring shore, seriously to endanger or actually to consume 
the fair fabric of our Union." 

We find in this document, signed by our three 
ministers, and approved by the American people, the 
doctrine laid down clearly that if the United States 
believed that Cuba was to be transferred by Spain to 
England, or to France, or to some other Power 
inimical to the United States, the safety of the 
American people, the safety of our institutions, the 
existence of the Government, being imperilled, we 


should have a right, without regard to money or 
blood, to acquire it. 

Where does this carry us ? We find that this 
doctrine was not only laid down, but practised, in 
the case of Florida. Suppose Louisiana was now 
out of the Confederacy, holding the key to the Gulf, 
the outlet to the commerce of the great West : under 
the doctrine laid down by these ministers, and prac 
tised by the Congress of the United States, would 
not this Government have the right, in obedience to 
the great principle of self-preservation, and for the 
safety of our institutions, to seize it and pass it under 
the jurisdiction of the United States, and hold it as 
a province subject to the laws of the United States ? 
I say it would. The same principle will apply to 
Florida. The same principle would apply to South 
Carolina. I regret that she occupies the position 
that she has assumed, but I am arguing a principle, 
and do not refer to her out of any disrespect. If 
South Carolina were outside of the Confederacy, an 
independent Power, having no connection with the 
United States, and our institutions were likely to be 
endangered, and the existence of the Government im 
perilled by her remaining a separate and independent 
Power, or by her forming associations and alliances 
with some foreign Power, I say we should have a 
right, on the principle laid down by Mr. Mason, Mr. 
Buchanan, and Mr. Soule", and upon the principle 
practised by the Congress of the United States in 
the case of Florida, to seize her, pass her under the 


jurisdiction of the United States, and hold her as a 

Mr. President, I have spoken of the possibility of 
a State standing in the position of South Carolina 
making alliances with a foreign Power. What do 
we see now ? Ex-Governor Manning, of that State, 
in a speech made not long since at Columbia, made 
these declarations : 

" Cotton is king, and would enable us in peace to rule the 
nations of the world, or successfully to encounter them in war. 
The millions in France and England engaged in its manufac 
ture, are an effectual guarantee of the friendship of those 
nations. If necessary, their armies would stand to guard its 
uninterrupted and peaceful cultivation, and their men-of-war 
would line our coasts to guard it in its transit from our ports." 

Ah ! are we prepared, in the face of doctrines 
like these, to permit a State that has been a member 
of our Confederacy to go out, and erect herself into 
an independent Power, when she points to the time 
when she will become a dependant of Great Britain, 
or when she will w r ant the protection of France ? 
What is the doctrine laid down by Mr. Buchanan 
and Mr. Mason and Mr. Soule ? If Cuba is to pass 
into the hands of an unfriendly Power, or any Power 
inimical to the United States, we have a right to 
seize and to hold her. Where is the difference be 
tween the two cases ? 

If South Carolina is outside of the Confederacy 
as an independent Power, disconnected from this 
Government, and we find her forming alliances to 


protect hur, I ask what becomes of that great 
principle, the law of self-preservation ? Does it not 
apply with equal force ? We are told, upon pretty 
high authority, that Great Britain is operating in 
the United States ; that she is exerting a powerful 
influence. I find that, in a paper issued from the 
executive office, Little Rock, Arkansas, and ad 
dressed to the militia of the State of Arkansas, the 
following language is used : 

"It is my opinion, that the settled and secret policy of the 
British Government is to disturb the domestic tranquillity of 
the United States ; that its object is to break up and destroy 
our Government, get rid of a powerful rival, extend the area 
of the British dominions on this Continent, and become the 
chief and controlling Power in America." 

I will not read it all. He gives many reasons 
why it is so. He says : 

" I believe that such a conspiracy exists against our Federal 
Government, and that, if all the secret facts and transactions 
connected with it, and the names of the secret agents and 
emissaries of the British Government, distributed throughout 
the United States, could be ascertained, well authenticated, 
and made public, the patriotic people of the United States 
would be filled with astonishment ; and having discovered the 
real author and instigator of the mischief, all discord between 
the free States and the slave States would at once be allayed, if 
not entirely cease, and that then they would become fraternally 
and more firmly united ; and that the united indignation of 
the patriotic citizens of the whole Union against the British 
Government and its agents and emissaries would be so great 
that war would be declared against the British Government in 
less than twelve months." 


The Governor of the State of Arkansas says, 
that if all the secret workings of Great Britain in 
this country could be ascertained, war would be 
declared in less than twelve months against the Gov 
ernment of Great Britain. What further does he 

" Entertaining these opinions, I deem it my duty to the 
people of the State of Arkansas, to warn them to go to work 
in earnest and make permanent and thorough preparations, so 
that they may at all times be ready to protect themselves and 
our State against evils which I believe the British Government 
intends shall not be temporary and trifling, but continuous and 
aggravated, irrepressible and terrible." 

This is signed by " Elias N. Conway, Governor 
of the State of Arkansas, and commander-in-chief 
of the army of said State, and of the militia 
thereof." But ex-Governor Manning, of South 
Carolina, declares that cotton is king, and that the 
armies of Great Britain, and the fleets of France, 
and their men-of-war, would protect them : the one 
in the peaceful production of cotton, and the other 
in its exportation to the ports of the world. What 
sort of times are we falling on? Where are we 
going ? Are these the threats that we are to be met 
with ? Is the United States to be told by one of the 
States attempting to absolve itself from its allegiance, 
without authority, and in fact in violation of the 
Constitution of the United States, that, being dis 
connected with the Confederacy, it will, upon our 
coast, form an alliance with France and with Eng 
land, which will protect her more securely than the 


protection which she now receives from the United 
States ? The question recurs, have we not an exist 
ence, have we not institutions, to preserve ; and, in 
compliance with the great law of self-preservation, 
can we permit one of these States to take the protec 
tion of a foreign Power that is inimical and danger 
ous to the peaceful relations of this Government? 
I do not believe that we can. I repeat, for fear it 
may be misunderstood, that there are certain cir 
cumstances and conditions under which the remain 
ing States, parties to the compact, might tolerate the 
secession of one State ; and there are other circum 
stances and other conditions under which they dare 
not do it, in view of the great principle of self-preser 
vation of which I have been speaking. When any 
State takes such an attitude, what will be our course 
of policy ? The case must be determined by the 
existing circumstances at the time. 

But it is expected and said by some that South 
Carolina, in making this movement, intends to carry 
the other States along with her ; that they will be 
drawn into it. Now, Mr. President, is that the way 
for one sister, for one rebellious State, to talk to 
others ? Is that the language in which they should 
be addressed ? I ask my friend from California to 
read an extract from the message of Governor Gist, 
of South Carolina. He will do me a favor by so 
doing ; and then we shall see the basis upon which 
we stand, and the attitude in which we are to be 
placed. Not only is South Carolina to go out of 


the Union in violation of the Constitution, impeding 
and resisting the execution of the laws, but the 
other States are to be dragged along with her, and 
we are all to be involved in one common ruin. 

Mr. LATHAM read the following extract from the 
message of Governor Gist to the Legislature of 

South Carolina : 


" The introduction of slaves from other States which may 
not become members of the Southern Confederacy, and par 
ticularly the border States, should be prohibited by legislative 
enactment ; and by this means they will be brought to see that 
their safety depends upon a withdrawal from their enemies and 
an union with their friends and natural allies. If they should 
continue their union with the non-slaveholding States, let them 
keep their slave property in their own borders, and the only 
alternative left them will be emancipation by their own act, or 
by the action of their own confederates. We cannot consent 
to relieve them from their embarrassing situation by permit 
ting them to realize the money value for their slaves by selling 
them to us, and thus prepare them, without any loss of prop 
erty, to accommodate themselves to the Northern free-soil idea. 
But should they unite their destiny with us, and become stars 
in the Southern galaxy, members of a great Southern Con 
federation, we will receive them with open arms and an 
enthusiastic greeting." 

" All hope, therefore, of concerted action by a Southern 
convention being lost, there is but one course left for South 
Carolina to pursue consistent with her honor, interest, and 
safety, and that is, to look neither to the right or the left, but 
go straight forward to the consummation of her purpose. It is 
too late now to receive propositions for a conference ; and the 
State would be wanting in self-respect, after having deliber 
ately decided on her own course, to entertain any proposition 
looking to a continuance of the present Union. We can get 


no better or safer guaranty than the present Constitution ; 
and that has proved impotent to protect us against the fanat 
icism of the North. The institution of slavery must be under 
the exclusive control of those directly interested in its preser 
vation/ and not left to the mercy of those that believe it to be 
their duty to destroy it." 

Mr. JOHXSON continued : If my friend will read 
an extract from the speech of Mr. KEITT of South 
Carolina, it will show the determination and policy 
to be pursued. It is done with all respect to him ; 
for he is a man upon whom I look as a perfect 
and entire gentleman, from all my acquaintance 
with him ; but I merely want to quote from his 
speech to get at the policy they wish to pursue. 

Mr. LATHAM read as follows : 

" Hon. L. M. KEITT was serenaded at Columbia on Monday 
evening ; and in response to the compliment he spoke at con 
siderable length in favor of separate State action. He said 
South Carolina could not take one step backward now without 
receiving the curses of posterity. South Carolina, single and 
alone, was bound to go out of this accursed Union : he would 
take her out if but three men went with him, and if slaves 
took her back it would be to her graveyard. Mr. Buchanan 
was pledged to secession, and he meant to hold him to it. The 
policy of the State should be prudent and bold. His advice 
was, move on, side by side. He requested union and harmony 
among those embarked in the same great cause ; but yield not 
a day too long, and when the time comes let it come speedily. 
Take your destinies in your own hands, and shatter this ac 
cursed Union. South Carolina could do it alone. But if she 
could not, she could at least throw her arms around the pillars 
of the Constitution, and involve all the States in a common ruin. 
Mr. KEITT was greatly applauded throughout his address." 


Mr. JOHNSON continued : Mr. President, I have 
referred to these, extracts to show the policy intended 
to be pursued by our seceding sister. What is the 
first threat thrown out ? It is an intimidation to 
the border States, alluding especially, I suppose, to 
Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. They 
constitute the first tier of the border slave States. 
The next tier would be North Carolina and Ten 
nessee and Arkansas. We in the South have com 
plained of and condemned the position assumed by 
the Abolitionists. We have complained that their 
intention is to hem slavery in, so that, like the scor 
pion when surrounded by fire, if it did not die from 
the intense heat of the scorching flames, it would 
perish from its own poisonous sting. Now, our 
sister, without consulting her sisters, without caring 
for their interest or their consent, says that she 
will move forward ; that she will destroy the Gov 
ernment under which we have lived, and that 
hereafter, when she forms a government or a con 
stitution, unless the border States come in, she will 
pass laws prohibiting the importation of slaves into 
her State from those States, and thereby obstruct 
the. slave-trade among the States, and throw the 
institution back upon the border States, so that 
they will be compelled to emancipate their slaves 
upon the principle laid down by the Abolition party. 
That is the rod held over us ! 

I tell our sisters in the South that so far as Ten 
nessee is concerned, she will not be dragged into 


a Southern or any other confederacy until she 
has had time to consider ; and then she will go 
when she believes it to be her interest, and not 
before. I tell our Northern friends, who are re- 
si stino- the execution of the laws made in Coli 

formity with the Constitution, that we will not be 
driven on the other hand into their confederacy, 
and we will not go into it unless it suits us, and 
they give us such guaranties as we deem right 
and proper. We say to you of the South, we are 
not to be frightened and coerced. Oh, when one 
talks about coercing a State, how maddening and 
insulting to the State ; but when you want to 
bring the other States to terms, how easy to point 
out a means by which to coerce them ! But, sir, 
we do not intend to be coerced. 

We are told that certain States will go out and 
tear this accursed Constitution into fragments, and 
drag the pillars of this mighty edifice down upon 
us, and involve us all in one common ruin. Will 
the border States submit to such a threat? No. 
But if they do not come into the movement, the 
pillars of this stupendous fabric of human free 
dom and greatness and goodness are to be pulled 
down, and all will be involved in one common 
ruin. Such is the threatening language used. 
" You shall come into our confederacy, or we will 
coerce you to the emancipation of your slaves." 
That is the language which is held towards us. 

There are many ideas afloat about this threat- 


ened dissolution, and it is time to speak out. The 
question arises, in reference to the protection and 
preservation of the institution of slavery, whether 
dissolution is a remedy or will give to it protection. 
I avow here, to-day, that if I were an Abolition 
ist, and wanted to accomplish the overthrow and 
abolition of the institution of slavery in the South 
ern States, the first step that I would take would 
be to break the bonds of this Union, and dissolve 
this Government. I believe the continuance of 
slavery depends upon the preservation of this 
Union, and a compliance with all the guaranties 
of the Constitution. I believe an interference 
with it will break up the Union ; and I believe a 
dissolution of the Union will, in the end, though 
it may be some time to come, overthrow the insti 
tution of slavery. Hence we find so many in the 
North who desire the dissolution of these States as 
the most certain and direct and effectual means of 
overthrowing the institution of slavery. 

What protection would it be to us to dissolve 
this Union ? What protection would it be to us 
to convert this nation into two hostile Powers, the 
one warring with the other? Whose property is 
at stake ? Whose interest is endangered ? Is it 
not the property of the border States ? Suppose 
Canada were moved down upon our border, and 
the two separated sections, then different nations, 
were hostile : what would the institution of slavery 
be worth on the border? Every man who has 


common sense will see that the institution would 
take up its march and retreat, as certainly and as 
unerringly as general laws can operate. Yes ; it 
would commence to retreat the very moment this 
Union was divided into two hostile Powers, and 
you made the line between the slaveholding and 
non-slaveholding States the line of division. 

Then, what remedy do we get for the institution 
of slavery ? Must we keep up a standing army ? 
Must we keep up forts bristling with arms along 
the whole border ? This is a question to be con 
sidered, one that involves the future ; and no step 
should be taken without mature reflection. Be 
fore this Union is dissolved and broken up, we in 
Tennessee, as one of the slave States, want to be 
consulted ; we want to know what protection we 
are to have ; whether we are simply to be made 
outposts and guards to protect the property of 
others, at the same time that we sacrifice and lose 
our own. We want to understand this question. 

Again : if there is one division of the States, 
will there not be more than one ? I heard a Sen 
ator say, the other day, that he would rather see 
this Government separated into thirty-three frac 
tional parts than to see it consolidated ; but when 
you once begin to divide, when the first division 
is made, who can tell when the next will be made ? 
When these States are all turned loose, and a dif 
ferent condition of things is presented, with com 
plex and abstruse interests to be considered and 



weighed and understood, what combinations may 
take place no one can tell. I am opposed to the 
consolidation of government, and I am as much 
for the reserved rights of States as any one ; but, 
rather than see this Union divided into thirty- 
three petty governments, with a little prince in 
one, a potentate in another, a little aristocracy in 
a third, a little democracy in a fourth, and a re 
public somewhere else ; a citizen not being able 
to pass from one State to another without a pass 
port or a commission from his government ; with 
quarrelling and warring amongst the little petty 
powers, which would result in anarchy ; I would 
rather see this Government to-day I proclaim it 
here in my place converted into a consolidated 
government. It would be better for the Ameri 
can people; it would be better for our kind; it 
would be better for humanity ; better for Chris 
tianity ; better for all that tends to elevate and en 
noble man, than breaking up this splendid, this 
magnificent, this stupendous fabric of human gov 
ernment, the most perfect that the world ever saw, 
and which has succeeded thus far without a par 
allel in the history of the world. 

When you come to break up and turn loose the 
different elements, there is no telling what com 
binations may take place in the future. It may 
occur, for instance, to the Middle States that they 
will not get so good a government by going a 
little further South as by remaining where we are. 


It may occur to North Carolina, to Tennessee, to 
Kentucky, to Virginia, to Maryland, to Missouri 
and perhaps Illinois might fall in, too that, by 
erecting themselves into a central, independent 
republic, disconnected either with the North or 
the South, they could stand as a peace-maker 
could stand as a great breakwater, resisting the 
heated and surging waves of the South, and the 
fanatical Abolitionism of the North. They might 
think that they could stand there and lift them 
selves up above the two extremes, with the sin 
cere hope that the time would arrive when the 
extremes would come together, and reunite once 
more, and we could reconstruct this greatest and 
best Government the world has ever seen. Or it 
might so turn out, our institution of slavery being 
exposed upon the northern line, that by looking 
to Pennsylvania, to New York, and to some of 
the other States, instead of having them as hos 
tile Powers upon our frontiers, they might come 
to this central republic, and give us such consti 
tutional guaranties, and such assurances that they 
would be executed, that it might be to our interest 
to form an alliance with them, and have a pro 
tection on our frontier. 

I throw these out as considerations. There will 
be various projects and various combinations made. 
Memphis is now connected with Norfolk, in the 
Old Dominion ; Memphis is connected with Balti 
more within two days. Here is a coast that lets 


us out to the commerce of the world. When we 
look around in the four States of Tennessee, Ken 
tucky, Virginia, and Maryland, there are things 
about which our memories, our attachments, and 
our associations linger with pride and with pleas 
ure. Go down into the Old Dominion ; there is 
the place where, in 1781, Cornwallis surrendered 
his sword to the immortal Washington. In the 
bosom of her soil are deposited her greatest and 
best sons. Move along in that trail, and there we 
find Jefferson and Madison and Monroe, and a 
long list of worthies. 

We come next to old North Carolina, my native 
State, God bless her ! She is my mother. Though 
she was not my cherishing mother, to use the lan 
guage of the classics, she is the mother whom I 
love, and I cling to her w r ith undying affection, as 
a son should cling to an affectionate mother. We 
find Macon, who was associated with our early 
history, deposited in her soil. Go to King s Moun 
tain, on her borders, and you there find the place 
on which the battle was fought that turned the 


tide of the Revolution. Yes, within her borders 
the signal battle was fought that turned the tide 
which resulted in the surrender of Cornwallis at 
Yorktown, in the Old Dominion. 

Travel on a little further, and we get back to 
Tennessee. I shall be as modest as I can in refer 
ence to her, but she has some associations that 
make her dear to the people of the United States. 


In Tennessee we have our own illustrious Jackson. 
There he sleeps that Jackson who issued his 
proclamation in 1833, and saved this Government. 
We have our Polk and our Grundy, and a long 
list of others who are worthy of remembrance. 

And who lie in Kentucky? Your Hardings, 
your Boones, your Roanes, your Clays, are among 
the dead; your CRITTEXDEN among the living. 
All are identified and associated with the history 
of the country. 

Maryland has her Carroll of Carrollton, and a 
long list of worthies, who are embalmed in the 
hearts of the American people. And you are 
talking about breaking up this Republic, with this 
cluster of associations, these ties of affection, around 
you. May we not expect that some means may 
be devised by which it can be held together ? 

Here, too, in the centre of the Republic, is the 
seat of Government, which was founded by Wash- 

ino-ton, and bears his immortal name. Who dare 

& ~ 

appropriate it exclusively? It is within the bor 
ders of the States I have enumerated, in whose 
limits are found the graves of Washington, of 
Jackson, of Polk, of Clay. From them is it sup 
posed that we will be torn away ? No, sir ; we 
will cherish these endearing associations with the 
hope, if this Republic shall be broken, that we 
may speak words of peace and reconciliation to 
a distracted, a divided, I may add, a maddened 
people. Angry waves may be lashed into fury 


on the one hand ; on the other blustering winds 
may rage ; but we stand immovable upon our 
basis, as on our own native mountains presenting 
their craggy brows, their unexplored caverns, their 
summits " rock-ribbed, and ancient as the sun,"- 
we stand speaking peace, association, and concert 
to a distracted Republic. 

But, Mr. President, will it not be well, before 
we break up this great Government, to inquire 
what kind of a government this new government 
in the South is to be, with which we are threatened 
unless we involve our destinies with this rash and 
precipitate movement? What intimation is there 
in reference to its character? Before my State 
and those States of which I have been speaking, 
go into a Southern or Northern confederacy, ought 
they not to have some idea of the kind of gov 
ernment that is to be formed? What are the in 
timations in the South in reference to the for 
mation of a new government ? The language of 
some speakers is that they want a Southern gov 
ernment obliterating all State lines a government 
of consolidation. It is alarming and distressing 
to entertain the proposition here. What ruin 
and disaster would follow, if we are to have a 
consolidated government here ! But the idea is 
afloat and current in the South that a Southern 
government is to be established, in the language 
of some of the speakers in the State of Georgia, 
" obliterating all State lines." Is that the kind 


of entertainment to which the people are to be 
invited ? Is that the kind of government under 
which we are to pass ; and are we to be forced to 
emancipate our slaves unless we go into it ? An 
other suggestion in reference to a Southern govern 
ment is, that we shall have a Southern Confederacy 
of great strength and power, with a constitutional 
provision preventing any State from changing its 
domestic institutions without the consent of three- 
fourths, or some great number to be fixed upon. 
Is that the kind of government under which we 
want to pass ? I avow here, that, so far as I am 
concerned, I will never enter, with my consent, 
any government, North or South, less republi 
can, less democratic, than the one under which 
we now live. 

Where are we drifting ? What kind of breakers 
are ahead? Have we a glimpse through the fog 
that envelops the rock on which the vessel of 
state is drifting ? Should we not consider ma 
turely, in giving up this old Government, what 
kind of government is to succeed it? Ought we 
not to have time to think ? Are we not entitled 
to respect and consideration ? In one of the lead 
ing Georgia papers we find some queer sugges 
tions ; and, as the miners would say, these may 
be considered as mere surface-indications, that 
develop what is below. We ought to know the 
kind of government that is to be established. 
When we read the allusions made in various 


papers, and by various speakers, we find that 
there is one party who are willing to give up this 
form of government ; to change its character ; and, 
in fact, to pass under a monarchical form of gov 
ernment. I hope that my friend will read the 
extracts which I will hand him. 

Mr. LATHAM read the following extracts : 

" If the Federal system is a failure, the question may well 
be asked, is not the whole republican system a failure 1 ? Very 
many wise, thinking men say so. We formed the Federal 
Government because the separate States, it was thought, 
were not strong enough to stand alone, and because they 
were likely to prove disadvantageous, if not dangerous, 
each to the other, in their distinct organization, and with 
their varying interests. When we break up, will the dis 
advantages and dangers of separate States be such as to 
require the formation of a new confederacy of those which 
are, at present, supposed to be homogeneous ? If we do 
form a new confederacy, when the old is gone, it would 
seem to be neither wise, prudent, nor statesmanlike to frame 
it after the pattern of the old. New safeguards and guar 
anties must necessarily be required, and none but a heed 
less maniac would seek to avoid looking this matter squarely 
in the face. 

" It is true that we might make a constitution for the 
fifteen Southern States, which would secure the rights of all, 
at present, from harm, or, at least, which would require a 
clear violation of its letter, so plain that the world could 
discern it, when unconstitutional action was consummated. 
But then, in the course of years, as men changed, times 
changed, interests changed, business changed, productions 
changed, a violation of the spirit might occur, which would 
not be clearly a violation of the letter. It may be said that 
the constitution might provide for its own change as times 


changed. Well, that was the design when our present Con 
stitution was formed, and, still, we say, it was a failure. 
How more carefully could a new one be arranged ? Men 
will say that we of the South are one, and that we shall get 
along well enough. But they who say it know neither his 
tory nor human nature. When the Union was formed, 
twelve of the thirteen States were slaveholding ; and if the 
cotton-gin had not been invented there would not probably 
to-day have been an African slave in North America. 

" But how about the State organizations V This is an 
important consideration, for whether we consult with the 
other Southern States or not, it is certain that each State 
must act for itself, in the first instance. When any State 
goes out of the present Federal Union, it then becomes a 
foreign Power as to all the other States, as well as to the 
world. Whether it will unite again with any of the States, 
or stand alone, is for it to determine. The new confederacy 
must then be made by those States which desire it ; and 
if Georgia, or any other State, does not find the proposed 
terms of federation agreeable, she can maintain her own 
separate form of government, or at least try it. Well, 
what form of government shall we have ? This is more 
easily asked than answered. 

" Some of the ivisest and best citizens propose a HERED 
that may be in itself, the most important point to discover is, 
whether or not the people are prepared for it. It is thought, 
again, by others, that we shall be able to go on for a gener 
ation or two, in a new confederacy, with additional safe 
guards ; such, for instance, as an Executive for life, a vastly 
restricted suffrage. Senators elected for life, or for a long 
period, say twenty-one years, and the most popular branch of 
the assembly elected for seven years, the judiciary absolutely 
independent, and for life, or good behavior. The frequency 
of elections, and the universality of suffrage, with the attend 
ant arousing of the people s passions, and the necessary 


sequence of demagogues being elevated to high station, are 
thought by many to be the great causes of trouble among us. 
"We throw out these suggestions that the people may 
think of them, and act as their interests require. Our own 
opinion is, that the South might be the greatest nation on 
the earth, and might maintain, on the basis of African 
slavery, not only a splendid government, but a secure re 
publican government. But still our fears are that through 
anarchy we shall reach the despotism of military chieftains, 
and Jinally be raited again to a monarchy." * 

"LET us REASON TOGETHER. Permit a humble indi 
vidual to lay before you a few thoughts that are burnt into 
his heart of hearts by their very truth. 

" The first great thought is this : The institution known as 
the Federal Government, established by the people of the 
United States of America, is a failure. This is a fact which 
cannot be gainsayed. It has never been in the power of the 
Federal Government to enforce all its own laws within its 
own territory ; it has, therefore, been measurably a failure 
from the beginning ; but its first convincing evidence of weak 
ness was in allowing one branch of its organization to pass 
an unconstitutional law (the Missouri Compromise). Its next 
evidence of decrepitude was its inability to enforce a con 
stitutional law, (the fugitive-slave law,) the whole fabric 
being shaken to its foundation by the only attempt of en 
forcement made by its chief officer (President Pierce). I 
need not enlarge in this direction. The Federal Govern 
ment is a failure. 

" What then ? The States, of course, revert to their 
original position, each sovereign within itself. There can be 
no other just conclusion. This, then, being our position, 
the question for sober, thinking, earnest men is, what shall 
we do for the future ? I take it for granted that no man in 
his senses would advocate the remaining in so many petty 
sovereignties. We should be worse than Mexicanized by 
1 Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle and Sentinel, Dec. 8, 1860. 


that process. What, then, shall we do ? In the first place, 
I would say, let us look around and see if there is a gov 
ernment of an enlightened nation that has not yet proven 
a failure, but which is now, and has ever been, productive 
of happiness to all its law-abiding people. If such a gov 
ernment can be found a government whose first and only 
object is the good, the REAL GOOD (not fancied good, an 
ignis faiuus which I fear both our fathers and ourselves 
have too much run alter in this country) of all its people, 
if such a government exists, let us examine it carefully ; if s 
it has apparent errors, (as what human institution has not ?) 
let us avoid them. Its beneficial arrangements let us adopt. 
Let us not be turned aside by its name, nor be lured by its 
pretensions, Try it by its works, and adopt or condemn it 
by its fruits. No more experiments. I speak as to wise 
men; judge ye what I say. 

" I am one of a few who ever dared to think that republi 
canism was a failure from its inception, and I have never 
shrunk from giving my opinion when it was worth while. 
I have never wished to see this Union disrupted ; but if it 
must be, then I raise my voice for a return to a 


" COLUMBIA, South Carolina, December 5, 1860. 
" Yesterday the debate in the House of Representatives 
was unusually warm. The parties arrayed against each 
other in the matter of organizing an army, and the manner 
of appointing the commanding officers, used scathing lan 
guage, and debate ran high throughout the session. So far 
as I am able to judge, both the opposing parties are led on 
by bitter prejudices. The Joint Military Committee, with 
two or three exceptions, have pertinaciously clung to the 
idea that a standing army of paid volunteers, to be raised 
at once, to have the power of choosing their officers, up to 
captain, and to require all above to be appointed by the 

1 Columbus (Georgia) Times. 


Governor, is the organization for the times. Mr. Cunning 
ham, of the House, who is put forward by the committee 
to take all the responsibility of extreme sentiments, has 
openly avowed his hatred of democracy in the camp. He 
considered the common soldier as incapable of an elective 
choice. He and others of his party wage a bitter Avar 
against democracy, and indicate an utter want of faith in 
the ability of the people to make proper choice in elections. 
" The party opposed to this, the predominant party, is 
ostensibly led in the House by Mr. McGowan of Abbeville, 
and Mr. Moore of Anderson. These gentlemen have a 
hard fight of it. They represent the democratic sentiments 
of the rural districts, and are in opposition to the Charles 
ton clique, who are urged on by Edward Rliett, Thomas Y. 
Simmons, and B. IT. llhett, Jr., of the Charleston Mercury. 
The tendencies of these gentlemen are all towards a dicta 
torship, or monarchical form of government ; at least it ap 
pears so to my mind, and I find myself not alone in the 
opinion. They fight heart and soul for an increase of guber 
natorial power ; and one of their number, as I have already 
stated, openly avows his desire to make the Governor a mili 
tary chieftain, with sovereign power." 1 

Mr. JOHNSON continued : Mr. President, I have 
merely called attention to these surface indications 
for the purpose of sustaining the assumption that 
even the people in the Southern States ought to 
consider what kind of government they are going 
to pass under, before they change the present one. 
We have been told that the present Constitution 
would be adopted by the new confederacy, and in 
a short time everything would be organized under 
it. But we find here other indications, and we are 
told from another quarter that another character of 
1 Correspondence of the "Baltimore American" 


government is preferable. We know that, North 
and South, there is a portion of our fellow-citizens 
who are opposed to a government based on the in 
telligence and will of the people. We know that 
power is always stealing from the many to the few. 
We know that it is always vigilant and on the alert; 
and now that we are in a revolution, and great 
changes are to be made, should we not, as faithful 
sentinels, as men who are made the guardians of 
the interests of the Government, look at these indi 
cations and call the attention of the country to 
them ? Is it not better to 

" bear those ills we have, . 
Than fly to others that we know not of" ? 

We see, by these indications, that it is contem 
plated to establish a monarchy. We see it an 
nounced that this Government has been a failure 
from the beginning. Now, in the midst of a revo 
lution, while the people are confused, while chaos 
reigns, it is supposed by some that we can be in 
duced to return to a constitutional or absolute 
monarchy. Who can tell that we may not have 
some Louis Napoleon among us, who may be ready 
to make a coup d etat, and enthrone himself upon 
the rights and upon the liberties of the people ? 
Who can tell what kind of government may grow 
up ? Hence the importance, in advance, of con 
sidering maturely and deliberately before we give up 
the old one. 

I repeat again that the people of Tennessee will 


never pass under another government that is less 
republican, less democratic in all its bearings, than 
the one under which we now live, I care not 
whether it is formed in the North or the South. 
We will occupy an isolated, a separate, and distinct 
position, before we will do it. We will pass into 
that fractional condition to which I have alluded 
before we will pass under an absolute or a constitu 
tional monarchy. I do not say this is the design 
North or South, or perhaps of any but a very small 
portion ; but it shows that there are some who, if 
they could find a favorable opportunity, would fix 
the description of government I have alluded to on 
the great mass of the people. Sir, I will stand by 
the Constitution of the country as it is, and by all 
its guaranties. I am not for breaking up this great 
Confederacy. I am for holding on to it as it is, 
with the mode and manner pointed out in the in 
strument for its own amendment. It was good 
enough for Washington, for Adams, for Jefferson, 
and for Jackson. It is good enough for us. I in- 

<T> O 

tend to stand by it, and to insist on a compliance 
with all its guaranties, North and South. 

Notwithstanding we want to occupy the position 
of a breakwater between the Northern and the South 
ern extremes, and bring all together if we can, I 
tell our Northern friends that the constitutional 
guaranties must be carried out ; for the time may 
come when, after we have exhausted all honorable 
and fair means, if this Government still fails to exe- 


cute the laws, and protect us in our rights, it will be 
at an end. Gentlemen of the North need not de 
ceive themselves in that particular ; but we intend 
to act in the Union and under the Constitution, and 
not out of it. We do not intend that you shall drive 
us out of this house that was reared by the hands of 
our fathers. It is our house. It is the constitutional 
house. We have a right here ; and because you 
come forward and violate the ordinances of this 
house, I do not intend to go out; and if you persist 
in the violation of the ordinances of the house, we 
intend to eject you from the building, and retain the 
possession ourselves. We want, if we can, to stay 
the heated, and I am compelled to say, according to 
my judgment, the rash and precipitate action of some 
of our Southern friends, that indicates red-hot mad 
ness. I want to say to those in the North, comply 
with the Constitution and preserve its guaranties, 
and in so doing save this glorious Union and all that 
pertains to it. I intend to stand by the Constitu 
tion as it is, insisting upon a compliance with all its 
guaranties. I intend to stand by it as the sheet- 
anchor of the Government ; and I trust and hope, 
though it seems to be now in the very vortex of 
ruin, though it seems to be running between Cha- 
rybdis and Scylla, the rock on the one hand and the 
whirlpool on the other, that it will be preserved, and 
will remain a beacon to guide, and an example to be 
imitated by all the nations of the earth. Yes, I in 
tend to hold on to it as the chief ark of our safety, 


as the palladium of our civil and our religious liberty. 
I intend to cling to it as the shipwrecked mariner 
clings to the last plank, when the night and the 
tempest close around him. It is the last hope of 
human freedom. Although denounced as an ex 
periment by some who want to see a constitutional 
monarchy, it has been a successful experiment. I 
trust and I hope it will be continued ; that this 
great work may go on. 

Why should we go out of the Union ? Have we 
anything to fear ? What are we alarmed about ? 
We say that you of the North have violated the 
Constitution, that you haA^e trampled under foot its 
guaranties ; but we intend to go to you in a proper 
way, and ask you to redress the wrong, and to 
comply with the Constitution. We believe the time 
will come when you will do it, and we do not intend 
to break up the Government until the fact is ascer 
tained that you will not do it. What is the com 
plaint ; what is the grievance that presses on our 
sister, South Carolina, now ? Is it that she wants to 
carry slavery into the Territories ; that she wants 
protection to slavery there ? How long has it been 
since, upon this very floor, her own Senators voted 
that it was not necessary to make a statute now for 
the protection of slavery in the Territories ? No 
longer aiio than the last session. Thev declared, in 

O ?3 J 

the resolutions adopted by the Senate, that when it 
was necessary they had the power to do it ; but that 
it was not necessary then. Are you going out for 


a grievance that lias not occurred, and which your 
own Senators then said had not occurred? Is it 
because you want to carry slaves to the Territories ? 
You were told that you had all the protection 
needed ; that the courts had decided in your behalf, 
under the Constitution ; and that, under the de 
cisions of the courts, the law must be executed. 

We voted for the passage of resolutions that Con 
gress had the power to protect slavery, and that Con 
gress ought to protect slavery when necessary and 
wherever protection was needed. Was there not a 
majority on this floor for it ; and if it was necessary 
then, could we not have passed a bill for that pur 
pose without passing a resolution saying that it 
should be protected wherever necessary ? I was 
here; I know what the substance of the proposition 
was ; and the whole of it was simply to declare the 
principle, that we had the power, and that it was the 
duty of Congress, to protect slavery when necessary, 
in the Territories or wherever else protection was 
needed. Was it necessary then ? If it was, we had 
the power, and why did we not pass the law? 

The Journal of the Senate records that on the 
25th of May last, 

" On motion by Mr. BROWX, to amend the resolution by 
striking out all after the word resolved, and in lieu thereof 
inserting : 

" That, experience having already shown that the Constitu 
tion and the common law, unaided by statutory enactments, 
do not afford adequate and sufficient protection to slave prop 
erty ; some of the Territories having failed, others having 


refused, to pass such enactments, it has become the duty of 
Congress to interpose and pass such laws as will afford to 
slave property in the Territories that protection which is given 
to other kinds of property. 

" It was determined in the negative yeas 3, nays 42. 

" On motion by Mr. BROWN, the yeas and nays being 
desired by one fifth of the Senators present. Those who voted 
in the affirmative are : 

" Messrs. Brown, Johnson of Arkansas, and Mallory. 

" Those who voted in the negative are : 

" Messrs. Benjamin, Bigler, Bragg, Bright, Chesnut, Clark, 
Clay, Clingman, Crittenden, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, Fitz~ 
patrick, Foot, Foster, Green, Grimes, Gwin, Hamlin, Harlan, 
Hemphill, Hunter, Iverson, Johnson of Tennessee, Lane, 
Latham, Mason, Nicholson, Pearce, Polk, Powell, Pugh, Rice, 
Sebastian, Slidell, Ten Eyck, Thomson, Toombs, Trumbull, 
Wigfall, Wilson, and Yulee." 

I say, therefore, that the want of protection to 
slavery in the Territories cannot be considered a 
grievance now. That is not the reason why she is 
going out, and going to break up the Confederacy. 
What is it, then ? Is there any issue between South 
Carolina and the Federal Government? Has the 
Federal Government failed to comply with, and to 
carry out, the obligations that it owes to South 
Carolina? In what has the Federal Government 
failed ? In what has it neglected the interests of 
South Carolina ? What law has it undertaken to 
enforce upon South Carolina that is unconstitutional 
and oppressive ? 

If there are grievances, why cannot we all go to 
gether, and write them down, and point them out 


to our Northern friends after we have agreed on 
what those grievances are, and say, " Here is what 
we demand : here our wrongs are enumerated ; upon 
these terms we have agreed ; and now, after we have 
given you a reasonable time to consider these ad 
ditional guaranties in order to protect ourselves 
against these wrongs, if you refuse them, then, hav 
ing made an honorable effort, having exhausted all 
other means, we may declare the association to be 
broken up, and we may go into an act of revolu 
tion." We can then say to them, " You have re 
fused to give us guaranties that we think are needed 
for the protection of our institutions and for the pro 
tection of our other interests." When they do this, 
I will go as far as he who goes the furthest. 

I tell them here to-day, if they do not do it, Ten 
nessee will be found standing as firm and unyielding 
in her demands for those guaranties, in the way a 
State should stand, as any other State in this Con 
federacy. She is not quite so belligerent now. She 
is not making quite so much noise. She is not as 
blustering as Sempronius was in the council in Ad- 
dison s play of " Cato," who declared that his " voice 
was still for war." There was another character 
there, Lucius, who was called upon to state what 
his opinions were ; and he replied that he must con 
fess his thoughts were turned on peace ; but when 
the extremity came, Lucius, who was deliberative, 
who was calm, and whose thoughts were upon 
peace, was found true to the interests of his country. 


He proved himself to be a man and a soldier ; 
while the other was a traitor and a coward. We 
will do our duty ; we will stand upon principle, and 
defend it to the last extremity. 

We do not think, though, that we have just cause 
for going out of the Union now. We have just 
cause of complaint ; but we are for remaining in the 
Union, and fighting the battle like men. We do. 
not intend to be cowardly, and turn our backs on 
our own camps. We intend to stay and fight the 
battle here upon this consecrated ground. Why 
should we retreat ? Because Mr. Lincoln has been 
elected President of the United States? Is this any 
cause why we should retreat? Does not every man, 
Senator or otherwise, know, that if Mr. Breckin- 
ridge had been elected we should not be to-day 
for dissolving the Union ? Then what is the issue ? 
It is because we have not got our man. If we had 


got our man, we should not have been for breaking 
up the Union ; but as Mr. Lincoln is elected, we 
are for breaking up the Union ! I say no. Let us 
show ourselves men, and men of courage. 

How has Mr. Lincoln been elected, and how have 
Mr. Breckinridge and Mr. Douglas been defeated ? 
By the ^otes of the American people, cast according 
to the Constitution and the forms of law, though it 
has been upon a sectional issue. It is not the first 
time in our history that two candidates have been 
elected from the same section of country. General 
Jackson and Mr. Calhoun were elected on the same 


ticket ; but nobody considered that cause of dissolu 
tion. They were from the South. I oppose the 
sectional spirit that has produced the election of Lin 
coln and Hamlin, yet it has been done according to 
the Constitution and according to the forms of law. 
I believe we have the power in our own hands, and 
I am not willing to shrink from the responsibility of 
exercising that power. 

How has Lincoln been elected, and upon what 
basis does he stand ? A minority President by 
nearly a million votes ; but had the election taken 
place upon the plan proposed in my amendment of 
the Constitution, by districts, he would have been 
this day defeated. But it has been done according 
to the Constitution and according to law. I am for 
abiding by the Constitution ; and in abiding by it I 
want to maintain and retain my place here, and put 
down Mr. Lincoln and drive back his advances upon 
Southern institutions, if he designs to make any. 
Have we not got the brakes in our hands ? Have 
we not got the power? We have. Let South 
Carolina send her Senators back ; let all the Sena 
tors come ; and on the. fourth of March next we shall 
have a majority of six in this body against him. 
This successful sectional candidate, who is in a mi 
nority of a million, or nearly so, on the popular vote, 
cannot, make his Cabinet on the fourth of March 
next, unless this Senate will permit him. 

Am I to be so great a coward as to retreat from 
duty ? I will stand here and meet the encroach- 



ments upon the institutions of my country at the 
threshold ; and as a man, as one that loves my 
country and my constituents, I will stand here and 
resist all encroachments and advances. Here is the 
place to stand. Shall I desert the citadel, and let 
the enemy come in and take possession ? No. Can 
Mr. Lincoln send a foreign minister, or even a con 
sul, abroad, unless he receives the sanction of the 
Senate ? Can he appoint a postmaster whose salary 
is over a thousand dollars a year without the consent 
of the Senate ? Shall we desert our posts, shrink 
from our responsibilities, and permit Mr. Lincoln to 
come with nis cohorts, as we consider them, from 
the North, to carry off everything ? Are we so cow 
ardly that now that we are defeated, not conquered, 
we shall do this ? Yes, we are defeated according 
to the forms of law and the Constitution ; but the real 
victory is ours, the moral force is with us. Are 
we agoing to desert that noble and that patriotic 
band who have stood by us at the North, who have 
stood by us upon principle, and upon the Constitu 
tion ? They stood by us and fought the battle upon 
principle ; and now that we have been defeated, not 
conque-red, are we to turn our backs upon them and 
leave them to their fate ? I, for one, will not. I 
intend to stand by them. How many votes did we 
get in the North ? We got more votes in the North 
against Lincoln than the entire Southern States cast. 
Are they not able and faithful allies ? They are ; 
and now, on account of- this temporary defeat, are 


we to turn our backs upon them and leave them to 
their fate ? 

We find, when all the North is summed up, that 
Mr. Lincoln s majority there is only about two hun 
dred thousand on the popular vote ; and when that 
is added to the other vote cast throughout the 
Union, he stands to-day in a minority of nearly a 
million votes. What, then, is necessary to be done ? 
To stand to our posts like men, and act upon 
principle ; stand for the country ; and in four years 
from this day, Lincoln and his administration will 
be turned out, the worst-defeated and broken-down 
party that ever came into power. It is an inevi 
table result from the combination of elements that 
now exist. What cause, then, is there to break up 
the Union ? What reason is there for deserting our 
posts and destroying this greatest and best Govern 
ment that was ever spoken into existence ? 

I voted against him ; I spoke against him; I spent 
my money to defeat him ; but still I love my 
country ; I love the Constitution ; I intend to insist 
upon its guaranties. There, and there alone, I in 
tend to plant myself, with the confident hope and 
belief that if the Union remains together, in less 
than four years the now triumphant party will be 
overthrown. In less time, I have the hope and 
belief that we shall unite and agree upon our griev 
ances here and demand their redress, not as sup 
pliants at the footstool of power, but as parties to a 
great compact ; we shall say that we want additional 


guaranties, and that they are necessary to the pres 
ervation of this Union ; and then, when they are 
refused deliberately and calmly, if we cannot do bet 
ter, let the South go together, and let the North go 
together, and let us have a division of this Govern 
ment without the shedding of blood, if such a thing 
be possible ; let us have a division of the property ; 
let us have a division of the Navy ; let us have a 
division of the Army, and of the public lands. Let 
it be done in peace, and in a spirit that should char 
acterize and distinguish this people. I believe we 
can obtain all our guaranties. I believe there is 
too much good sense, too much intelligence, too 
much patriotism, too much capability, too much vir 
tue, in the great mass of people to permit this Gov 
ernment to be overthrown. 

I have an abiding faith, I have an unshaken con 
fidence in man s capability to govern himself. I 
will not give up this Government that is now called 
an experiment, which some are prepared to abandon 
for a constitutional monarchy. No ; I intend to 
stand by it, and I entreat every man throughout the 
nation, who is a patriot, and who has seen, and is 
compelled to admit, the success of this great experi 
ment, to come forward, not in heat, not in fanaticism, 
not in haste, not in precipitancy, but in deliberation, 
in full view of all that is before us, in the spirit of 
brotherly love and fraternal affection, and rally 
around the altar of our common* country, and lay 
the Constitution upon it as our last libation, and 


swear by our God and all that is sacred and 
holy, that the Constitution shall be saved, and the 
Union preserved. Yes, in the language of the de 
parted Jackson, let us exclaim that the Union, " the 
Federal Union, it must be preserved." 

Are we likely, when we get to ourselves, North 
and South, to sink into brotherly love ? Are we 
likely to be so harmonious in that condition as 
some suppose ? I am sometimes impressed with the 
force of Mr. Jefferson s remark, that we may as well 
keep the North to quarrel with, for if we have 
no North to quarrel with, we shall quarrel among 
ourselves. We are a sort of quarrelsome, pugna 
cious people ; and if we cannot get a quarrel from 
one quarter, we shall have it from another ; and I 
would rather quarrel a little now with the North 
than be quarrelling with ourselves. What did a 
Senator say here in the American Senate, only a 
few days ago, because the Governor of a Southern 
State was refusing to convene the Legislature to 
hasten this movement that was going on throughout 
the South, and because he objected to that course 
of conduct ? The question was asked if there was 
not some Texan Brutus that would rise up and rid 
the country of the hoary -headed traitor ! This is 
the language that a Senator used. This is the way 
we begin to speak of Southern Governors. Yes ; to 
remove an obstacle in our way, we must have a 
modern Brutus who will go to the capital of a State 

and assassinate a Governor to accelerate the move- 


ment. If \ve are so unscrupulous in reference to 
ourselves, and in reference to the means we are 
willing to employ to consummate this dissolution, 
then it does not look very much like harmony 
among ourselves after we get out of it. 

Mr. President, I have said much more than I 
anticipated when I commenced ; and I have spoken 
more at length than a regard for my own health 
and strength would have allowed ; but if there is 
any effort of mine that would preserve this Govern 
ment till there is time to think, till there is time to 
consider, even if it cannot be preserved any longer ; 
if that end could be secured by making a sacrifice 
of my existence and offering up my blood, I \vould 
be willing to consent to it. Let us pause in this 
mad career ; let us hesitate. Let us consider well 
what we are doing before we make a movement. I 
believe that, to a certain extent, dissolution is going 
to take place. I say to the North, you ought to 
come up in the spirit which should characterize 
and control the North on this question ; and you 
ought to give those indications of good faith that 
will approach what the South demands. It will be 
no sacrifice on your part. It is no suppliancy 
on ours, but simply a demand of right. What 
concession is there in doing right ? Then, come 
forward. We have it in our power yes, this 
Congress here to-day has it in its power to save this 
Union, even after South Carolina has gone out. 
Will they not do it ? You can do it. Who is willing 


to take the dreadful alternative without making an 
honorable effort to save this Government ? This 
Congress has it in its power to-day to arrest this 
thing, at least for a season, until there is time to 
consider about it, until we can act discreetly and 
prudently, and I believe arrest it altogether. 

Shall we give all this up to the Vandals and the 
Goths ? Shall we shrink from our duty, and desert 
the Government as a sinking ship, or shall we stand 
by it ? I, for one, will stand here until the high be 
hest of my constituents demands of me to desert my 
post ; and instead of laying hold of the columns of 
this fabric and pulling it down, thoug 1 I may not be 
much of a prop, I will stand with my shoulder sup 
porting the edifice as long as human effort can do it. 

In saying what I have said on this occasion, Mr. 
President, I have had in view the duty that I owe 
to my constituents, to my children, to myself. 
Without regard to consequences, I have taken my 
position ; and when the tug comes, when Greek 
shall meet Greek, and our rights are refused after 
all honorable means have been exhausted, then it 
is that I will perish in the last breach ; yes, in the 
language of the patriot Emmet, " I will dispute 
every inch of ground ; I will burn every blade of 
grass ; and the last intrenchment of Freedom shall 
be my grave." Then, let us stand by the Constitu 
tion ; and in preserving the Constitution we shall 
save the Union ; and in saving the Union we save 
this the greatest Government on earth. 

I thank the Senate for their kind attention. 




5TH AND GTH, 1861. 

The Senate having under consideration the message of 
the President communicating resolutions of the Legislature 
of Virginia, 

Mr. JOHNSON remarked : Mr. President, on the 
19th of December I made a speech in the Senate, 
with reference to the present crisis, which I be 
lieved my duty to my State and to myself required. 
In making that speech, my intention and I 
think I succeeded in it was to establish myself 
upon the principles of the Constitution and the 
doctrines inculcated by Washington, Jefferson, 
Madison, Monroe, and Jackson. Having examined 
the positions of those distinguished fathers of the 
Republic, and compared them with the Constitu 
tion, I came to the conclusion that they were 
right ; and upon them I planted myself, and made 
the speech to which I have referred, in vindica 
tion of the Union and the Constitution, and against 
the doctrine of nullification or secession, which I 
look upon as a great political heresy. As far back 
as 1833, when I was a young man, before I made 


my advent into public life, when the controversy 
arose between the Federal Government and the 
State of South Carolina, and it became necessary 
for Andrew Jackson, then President of the United 
States, to issue his proclamation, exhorting that 
people to obey the law and comply with the re 
quirements of the Constitution, I planted myself 
upon the principles then announced by him. I 
believed that the positions taken then by General 
Jackson, and those who came to his support, were 
the true doctrines of the Constitution, and the 
only doctrines upon which this Government could 
be preserved. I have been uniformly, from that 
period to the present time, opposed to the doc 
trine of secession, or of nullification, which is 
somewhat of a hermaphrodite, but approximates 
to the doctrine of secession. I repeat, that I then 
viewed it as a heresy and as an element which, 
if maintained, would result in the destruction of 
this Government. I maintain the same position 

I oppose this heresy for another reason : not 
only as being destructive of the existing Govern 
ment, but as being destructive of all future con 
federacies that may be established as a consequence 
of a disruption of the present one ; and I availed 
myself of the former occasion on which I spoke, 
to enter my protest against it, and to do some- 
tiling to extinguish a political heresy that ought 
never to be incorporated upon this or any other 


Government which may be subsequently estab 
lished. I look upon it as the prolific mother of 
political sin ; as a fundamental error ; as a heresy 
that is intolerable in contrast with the existence 
of the Government itself. I look upon it as being 
productive of anarchy ; and anarchy is the next 
step to despotism. The developments that we have 
recently seen in carrying this doctrine into practice, 
admonish us, I think, that this will be the result. 
But, Mr. President, since I made that speech, 
on the 19th of December, I have been the peculiar 
object of attack. I have been denounced, because 
I happened to be the first man south of Mason 
and Dixon s line who entered a protest or made 
an argument in the Senate against this political 
error. From what I saw here on the evening when 
I concluded my speech although some may have 
thought that it intimidated and discouraged me I 
was inspired with confidence ; I felt that I had 
struck Treason a blow. I thought then, and I know 
now, that men who were engaged in treason felt 
the blows that I dealt out on that occasion. As I 
have been made the peculiar object of attack, not 
only in the Senate, but out of the Senate, my pur 
pose on this occasion is to meet some of these 
attacks, and to say some things in addition to w r hat 
I then said against this movement. 


Yesterday the last of the Senators who represent 
what are called the seceding States, retired, and a 


drama was enacted. The piece was well performed ; 
the actors were perfect in their parts; it was got 
up to order ; I will not say that the mourning aux 
iliaries had been selected in advance. One of the 
retiring Senators, in justifying the course that his 
State had taken, made a very specious and plausible 
argument in reference to the doctrine of secession. 
I allude to the Senator from Louisiana. 1 He argued 
that the sovereignty of that State had never passed 
to the United States ; that the Government held it 
in trust ; that no conveyance was made ; that sover 
eignty could not be transferred ; that out of the gra 
cious pleasure and good-will which the First Consul 
of France entertained toward the American people, 
the transfer was made of the property without con 
sideration, and the sovereignty was in abeyance or 
trust, and therefore his State had violated no faith, 
and had a right to do precisely what she has done. 
With elaborate preparation and seeming sincerity, 
with sweet tones, euphonious utterances, mellifluous 
voice, and the greatest earnestness, he called our 
attention to the treaty to sustain his assumption. 
But when we examine the subject, Mr. President, 
how do the facts stand ? I- like fairness : I will not 
say that the Senator, in making quotations from the 
treaty and commenting upon them, wa: intentionally 
unfair ; nor can I say that the Senator from Louis 
iana, with all his acumen, his habits of industry, 
and his great research, had not read and understood 

1 Mr. Benjamin. 


all the provisions of the treaty. In doing so, I 
should reflect upon his character ; it might be con 
strued as a reflection upon his want of research, 
for which he has such a distinguished reputation. 
The omission to read important portions of the 
treaty I will not attribute to any intention to mis 
lead ; I will simply call the attention of the Senate 
and the country to his remarks, and then to the 
treaty. The Senator, after premising, went on to 

" I have said that the Government assumed to act as trustee 
or guardian of the people of the ceded province, and cove 
nanted to transfer to them the sovereignty thus held in trust 
for their use and benefit, as soon as they were capable of 
exercising it. What is the express language of the treaty ? " 

He then read the third article of the treaty of 
cession of Louisiana, which provides merely for 
their incorporation into the United States ; their 
protection in the enjoyment of their religion, &c. ; 
and thus he commented on it : 

" And, sir, as if to mark the true nature of the cession in a 
manner too significant to admit of misconstruction, the treaty 
stipulates no price ; and the sole consideration for the con 
veyance, as stated on its face", is the desire to afford a strong 
proof of the friendship of France for the United States. By 
the terms of a separate convention stipulating the payment 
of a sum of money, the precaution is again observed of 
stating that the payment is to be made, not as a considera 
tion, or a price, or a condition precedent of the cession, but 
it is carefully distinguished as being a consequence of the 


Now, Mr. President, to make tins matter more 
intelligible, and better understood by the country, 
it seems to me it would have been better to read the 
first article of the treaty, which commences thus : 

" The "President of the United States of America, and the 
First Consul of the French Republic, in the name of the 
French people, desiring to remove all source of misunder 
standing relative to objects of discussion," &c. 

After reciting the other treaties pending between 
France and the United States and Spain, they go on 
in the first article as follows : 

" And whereas, in pursuance of the treaty, and particularly 
the third article, the French Republic has an incontestable 
title to the domain and to the possession of the said territory, 
[that is, of Louisiana,] the First Consul of the French Re 
public, desiring to give to the United States a strong proof 
of his friendship, doth hereby cede to the said United States, 
in the name of the French Republic, forever and in full 
sovereignty, the said territory, with all its rights and appur 
tenances, as fully and in the same manner as they have been 
acquired by the French Republic, in virtue of the above-men 
tioned treaty concluded with his Catholic Majesty." 

Now, sir, is there not a clear and distinct and 
explicit conveyance of sovereignty, of property, of 
jurisdiction, of everything that resided in the First 
Consul of France, to the people of the United 
States ? Clearly and distinctly the jurisdiction and 
control of that Government were transmitted abso 
lutely by the treaty. Why not have read that part 
of the treaty first ? 

The second article is in these words : 



"ART. 2. In the cession made by the preceding article, are 
included the adjacent islands belonging to Louisiana, all pub 
lic lots and squares, vacant lands, and all public buildings, 
fortifications, barracks, and other edifices, which are not 
private property. The archives, papers, and documents rela 
tive to the domain and sovereignty of Louisiana an,d its de 
pendencies, will be left in the possession of the commissaries 
of the United States, and copies will be afterwards given in 
due form to the magistrates and municipal officers of such of 
the said papers and documents as may be necessary to them." 

We see, then, in the first article, that property 
and sovereignty were all conveyed together, in 
clear and distinct terms. If there was a power 
residing anywhere to control the people and the 
property of Louisiana, it was in the First Consul of 
France, who conveyed absolutely the sovereignty 
and right of property to the people of the United 
States. Then we come to the third article, which 
the Senator read yesterday : 

" ART. 3. The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be 
incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted 
as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal 
Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, 
and immunities of citizens of the United States ; and, in the 
mean time, they shall be maintained and protected in the free 
enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which 
they profess." 

There is some order in that ; one thing fits the 
other. There is the conveyance of sovereignty 
and property. There is a minute enumeration in 
the second article ; and in the third article it is 
provided that as soon as possible, according to the 


principles of the Federal Constitution, they shall be 
incorporated into the Union, and protected in the 
enjoyment of the religion which they may profess. 
We see, then, how the thing stands. Have not 
all these things been complied with ? But, by way 
of exonerating; Louisiana from censure for her 


recent act of attempted secession, it is urged that, 
when this treaty was made, there was no consider 
ation ; but that, out of the good-will that the First 
Consul had towards the American people, the sov 
ereignty was given to us in trust ; that we took 
the property in trust ; that we took everything in 
trust. Sir, the Federal Government took the prop 
erty, and the sovereignty with it, in trust for all the 
States. The retiring Senator s speech whether 
it was intended or not, I do not undertake to say 
is calculated to make the false impression that some 
time afterwards, perhaps in some other treaty remote 
from that, some money was paid by the United 
States to France, out of the good-will that this 
Government had towards them. And yet, sir, on 
the same day the 80th of April, 1803 on 
which the other treaty was made and signed, the 
following convention between the United States of 
America and the French Republic was made : 

" The President of the United States of America, and the 
First Consul of the French Republic, in the name of the 
French people, in consequence of the treaty of cession of 
Louisiana, which has been signed this day, wishing to reg 
ulate definitely everything which has relation to the said 
cession," &c. 


This, be it observed, was made on the same day, 
and was, perhaps, written out before the other treaty 
was signed. And what does the first article say ? 
It says expressly : 

" ART. 1. The Government of the United States engages 
to pay to the French Government, in the manner specified in 
the following article, the sum of sixty million francs, indepen 
dent of the sum which shall be fixed by another convention, 
for the payment of debts due by France to the citizens of 
the United States." 

What becomes of the specious plea that we took 
it simply in trust, and that no consideration was 
paid ? Turn over to the American State Papers ; 
look at Mr. Livingston s letters, upon which these 
treaties were predicated ; read his correspondence 
with Mr. Madison, who was Secretary of State ; and 
you will find that France demanded the sum of 
100,000,000f. independent of what they owed the 
citizens of the United States ; but after long negotia 
tions, the First Consul of the French concluded to 
take 60,000,000f. ; and the first two articles of the 
treaty which I have read are based upon the 
60,000,000f. paid by this Government in considera 
tion of the sovereignty and territory, all of which 
was to be held in trust by the United States for all 
the States. 

This was given to us out of the pure good-will 
that Napoleon at that time had towards the United 
States ! Sir, he had great hate for Great Britain ; 
and by the promptings of that hate he was disposed 


to cede this territory to some other Power. He 
feared that Great Britain, whose navy was superior 
to his own, would take it. He desired to obtain 
money to carry on his wars and sustain his Govern 
ment. These considerations, and not love or par 
tiality or friendship for the United States, led him 
to make the cession. Then what becomes of the 
Senator s special pleading? From the Senator s 
remarks, it may have been concluded that we got 
it as a gratuity. But after examining the State 
Papers and the correspondence, and looking at the 
tedious and labored negotiation previous to the 
making of the treaty, it is clear that at the time 
the first treaty was made, on the very same day, 
the consideration was fixed ; and yet the Senators 
tell us that at some other time a treaty was made 
not referring to any amount of money agreed to 
be paid at this particular time, and that therefore 
they are excusable and justifiable in going out of 
the Confederacy of these States. 

And then an appeal was made. It was a very 
affecting scene. Louisiana was gone ; and what 
was the reason ? Great oppression and great wrong. 
She could not get her rights in the Union, and con 
sequently she has sought them out of it. What 
are the wrongs of Louisiana ? What was the cause 
for all the sympathy expressed on the one hand, and 
the tears shed on the other? Louisiana was pre 
sented to the country in a most pathetic and sym 
pathetic attitude. Her wrongs were without num- 



ber; their enormity was almost without estimate ; 
they could scarcely be fathomed by human sym 
pathy. It was not unlike the oration of Mark 
Antony over the dead body of Caesar. Weeping 
friends grouped picturesquely in the foreground ; 
the bloody robe, the ghastly wounds, were conjured 
to the imagination ; and who was there that did 
not expect to hear the exclamation, " If you have 
tears, prepare to shed them now " ? 

Sir, what are the great wrongs that have been 
inflicted upon Louisiana ? Prior to 1803 Louisiana 
was transferred from Spain to France, and from 
France back to Spain, both property and sover 
eignty, almost with the same facility as a chattel 
from one person to another. On the 30th of April, 
1803, when this treaty was made, what was the 
condition of Louisiana? It was then a province 
of the First Consul of France, subject to be dis 
posed of at his discretion. The United States came 
forward and paid to the First Consul of France 
60,000,000f. for the territory. The treaty was 
made ; the territory was transferred ; and in 1806, 
in express compliance with the treaty, as soon as 
practicable according to the terms of the Federal 
Constitution, Louisiana was admitted into the Union 
as a State. We bought her ; we paid for her ; 
we admitted her into the Union upon terms of 
equality with the other States. Was there any 
oppression, any great wrong, any grievance in that ? 

In 1815 war having been declared in 1812 


Louisiana was attacked ; the city of New Orleans 
was about to be sacked and laid prostrate in the 
dust ; " Beauty and Booty " were the watchwords. 
She was oppressed then, was she not ? Kentucky, 
your own gallant State, sir, (and, thank God ! she 
is standing erect now,) and Tennessee, (which, as I 
honestly believe, will ever stand by her side in this 
struggle for the Constitution and the Union,) in 
conjunction with the other States, met Packenham 
and his myrmidons upon the plains of New Orleans, 
and there dealt out death and desolation to her in 
vading foe. What soil did we invade ? What city 
did we propose to sack ? Whose property did we 
propose to destroy ? Was not Louisiana there gal 
lantly, nobly, bravely, and patriotically defended, by 
the people of the United States, from the inroads and 
from the sacking of a British foe ? Is that defence 
one of her oppressions ? Is that one of the great 
wrongs that have been inflicted upon Louisiana ? 
What more has been done by this Government ? 
How much protection has she received upon her 
sugar ? In order to give that protection, the poorest 
man throughout the United States is taxed for every 
spoonful that he uses to sweeten his coffee. How 
many millions, under the operation of a protection 
upon sugar, have been contributed to the wealth and 
prosperity of Louisiana since she has been in this 
Confederacy ? Estimate them. Is this another of 
her wrongs ? Is this another of her grievances ? Is 
this another of the oppressions that the United States 
have inflicted upon Louisiana ? 


Sum them all up, and what are the wrongs, what 
the grievances which justify Louisiana in taking leave 
of the United States ? We have defended her soil 
and her citizens ; we have paid the price asked for 
her by the French Government ; she has been 
protected in the production of her sugar, and in the 
enjoyment of every right that a sovereign State 
could ask at the hands of the Federal Govern 
ment. And how has she treated the United States ? 
What is her position ? Upon her own volition, 
without consultation with her sister States, without 
even consulting with Tennessee and Kentucky, 
who defended her when she was in peril, she proposes 
to secede from the Union. She does more : in vio 
lation of the Constitution of the United States, in 
despite of the plighted faith that exists between all 
the States, she takes our arsenals, our forts, our 
custom-house, our mint, with about a million dollars. 
Gracious God ! to what are we coming ? Is it thus 
that the Constitution of the United States is to be 
violated ? Forts, arsenals, custom-houses, and prop 
erty belonging to all the people of all the States, 
have been ruthlessly seized, and their undisturbed 
possession is the sum total of the great wrongs that 
have been inflicted upon Louisiana by the United 
States ! 

Mr. President, when I look at the conduct of 
some of the States, I am reminded of the fable of 
King Log and the frogs. They got tired of the 
log that lay in their midst, upon which they could 


bask in the sun, or from which they could dive to 
the depth beneath, without interference. And these 
seceding States have got tired of the Federal Gov 
ernment, which has been so profitable to them, and 
loathe the blessings which they enjoy. Seemingly, 
its inability to take care of itself created their op 
position to it. It seems, the inability of the United 
States to defend and take care of its own property 
has been an invitation to them to take possession 
of it ; and, like the frogs, they seek a substitute for 
their log. They prayed to Jupiter, the supreme 
deity, to send them another king ; and he answered 
their prayer by sending them a stork, who soon de 
voured his subject frogs. There are storks, too, in 
the seceding States. South Carolina has her stork 
king, and so has Louisiana. In the heavy appropria 
tions they are making to maintain armies, and in all 
their preparations for war, for which there is no 
cause, they will find they have brought down storks 
upon them that will devour them. 

What do we find, Mr. President, since this move 
ment commenced ? In about forty-six days, since 
the first State went out until the last one disap 
peared, the 26th of January, - they have taken 
from tli e United States, this harmless old ruler, six 
teen forts and one thousand and ninety-two guns, 
without any resistance, amounting to $6,513,000. 
They are very much alarmed at the power of this 
Government. Thus the Government oppresses 
them, thus this Government oppresses Louisiana, 


pertinaciously persisting in allowing those States to 
take all the guns, all the forts, all the arsenals, all 
the dock-yards, all the custom-houses, and all the 
mints. Thus they are so cruelly oppressed. Is it 
not a farce ? Is it not the greatest outrage and the 
greatest folly that was ever consummated since man 
was spoken into existence ? But these are the 
grievances of Louisiana. I shall say nothing against 
Louisiana. Tennessee and Kentucky have given 
demonstrations most noticeable, that when she 
needed friends, when she needed aid, they were at 
her bidding. 

But with Louisiana there was another very im 
portant acquisition. We acquired the exclusive and 
entire control of the navigation of the Mississippi 
River. We find that Louisiana, in her ordinance 
of secession, makes the negative declaration that 
she has the control of the navigation of that great 
stream, by stating that the navigation of the river 
shall be free to those States that remain on friendly 
terms with her, with the proviso that moderate con 
tributions are to be levied to defray such expenses 
as they may deem expedient from time to time. 
That is the substance of it. Sir, look at the facts. 
All the States, through their Federal Government, 
treated for Louisiana. The treaty was made. All 
the States, by the contribution of their money, paid 
for Louisiana and the navigation of the Mississippi 
River. Where, and from what source, does Louisi 
ana now derive the power or the authority to secede 


from this Union and set up exclusive control of the 
navigation of that great stream which is owned by 
all the States, which was paid for by the money of 
all the States, and upon whose borders the blood of 
many citizens of the States has been shed ? 

This is one of the aggrieved, the oppressed States ! 
Mr. President, is it not apparent that these griev 
ances and oppressions are mere pretences ? A large 
portion of the South (and that portion of it I am 
willing to stand by to the very last extremity) be 
lieve that aggressions have been made upon them 
by the other States, in reference to the institution of 
slavery. A large portion of the South believe that 
something ought to be done in the shape of what 
has been offered by the distinguished Senator from 
Kentucky, or something very similar. They think 
and feel that that ought to be done. But, sir, there 
is another portion who do not care for those prop 
ositions to bring about reconciliation, but who, on 
the contrary, have been alarmed lest something 
sbuj&ld be done to reconcile and satisfy the public 
mind, before this diabolical work of secession could 
be consummated. Yes, sir, they have been afraid ; 
and the occasion has been used to justify and to car 
ry into practice a doctrine which will be not only 
the destruction of this Government, but the destruc 
tion of all other governments that may be origi 
nated embracing the same principle. Why not, 
then, meet it like men ? We know there is a 
portion of the South who are for secession, who 


are for breaking up this Government, without regard 
to slavery or anything else, as I shall show before 
I have done. 

The Senator from Louisiana, 1 in a speech that 
he made some days since, took occasion to al 
lude to some authority that I had introduced from 
General Washington, the first President who ex 
ecuted the laws of the United States against armed 
resistance ; and it occurred to him that, by way 
of giving his argument force, it was necessary to 
remark that I was not a lawyer, and that there 
fore I had not examined the subject with that 
minuteness and with that care and familiarity that I 
should have done ; and hence that I had introduced 
authority which had no application to the question 
under consideration. The proof that he gave to 
show that I had not examined the subject carefully 
was contained in the very extract that I had quoted, 
and which he said declared that General Washing 
ton had been informed by the marshal that he could 
not execute the laws ; and from the fact of the 
marshal being incapable of executing them, General 
Washington was called upon to employ the means, 
under the Constitution and the laws, which were 
necessary to their enforcement. It may have been 
necessary for the distinguished Senator to inform 
the Senate and the country that I was not a lawyer ; 
but it was not necessary to inform anybody that 
read his speech and had the slightest information or 

1 Mr. Benjamin. 


sagacity, that he was a lawyer, and that he was 
making a lawyer s speech upon the case before him ; 
not an argument upon the great principles of the 
Government. The speech was a complete lawyer s 
speech, the authorities were summed up simply to 
make out the case on his side ; and he left out all 
those that would disprove his position. 

That Senator yesterday seemed to be very serious 
in regard to the practical operation of the doctrine 
of secession. I felt sorry myself, somewhat. I am 
always reluctant to part with a gentleman with 
whom I have been associated, and nothing had 
transpired to disturb between us those courteous 
relations which should always exist between persons 
associated on this floor. I thought the scene was 


pretty well got up, and was acted out admirably. 
The plot was executed to the very letter. You 
would have thought that his people in Louisiana 
were borne down and seriously oppressed by re 
maining in this Union of States. Now, I have an 
extract before me, from a speech delivered by that 
gentleman since the election of Abraham Lincoln, 
while the distinguished Senator was on the western 
slope of the Rocky Mountains, at the city of San 
Francisco. He was called upon to make an address; 
and I will read an extract from it, which I find in 
the " New York Times," the editors of which paper 
said they had the speech before them ; and I have 
consulted a gentleman here \vho was in California 
at the time, and he tells me that the report is cor- 



rect. In that speecli after the Senator had 
spoken some time with his accustomed eloquence 
he uttered tin s language : 

" Those who prate of, and strive to dissolve this glorious 
Confederacy of States, are like those silly savages who let 
fly their arrows at the sun in the vain hope of piercing it ! 
And still the sun rolls on, unheeding, in its eternal pathway, 
shedding light and animation upon all the world." 

Even after Lincoln was elected, the Senator from 
Louisiana is reported to have said, in the State of 
California, and in the city of San Francisco, that this 
great Union could not be destroyed. Those great 
and intolerable oppressions, of which we have since 
heard from him, did not seem to be flitting across his 
vision and playing upon his mind with that vividness 
and clearness which were displayed here yesterday. 
He said, in California, that this great Union would 
go on in its course, notwithstanding the puny efforts 
of the silly savages that were letting fly their arrows 
with the vain hope of piercing it. What has changed 
the Senator s mind on coining from that side of the 
continent to this ? What light has broken in upon 
him ? Has he been struck on his way, like Paul, 
when he was journeying from Tarsus to Damascus ? 
Has some supernatural power disclosed to him that 
his State and his people will be ruined if they re 
main in the Union ? Where do we find the dis 
tinguished Senator only at the last session ? On the 
22d of May last, when he made his celebrated reply 
to the Senator from Illinois, 1 the Senator from Louis- 

1 Mr. Douglas. 


iana, alluding to the contest for the Senate between 
Mr. LINCOLN and Mr. DOUGLAS, said : 

" In that contest, the two candidates for the Senate of the 
United States, in the State of Illinois, went before their peo 
ple. They agreed to discuss the issues ; they put questions to 
each other for answer ; and I must say here for I must be 
just to all that I have been surprised, in the examination 
that I made again, within the last few days, of this discussion 
between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas, to find that, on several 
points, Mr. Lincoln is a far more conservative man, unless 
he has since changed his opinion, than I had supposed him 
to be. There was no dodging on his part. Mr. Douglas 
started with his questions. Here they are, with Mr. Lincoln s 

The impression evidently made on the public 
mind then, before the presidential election, was that 
Lincoln, the rank Abolitionist now, was more con 
servative than Mr. Douglas ; and he said further, 
after reading the questions put by Mr. Lincoln, and 
his answers to them, 

" It is impossible, Mr. President, however we may differ in 
opinion with the man, not to admire the perfect candor and 
frankness with which the answers were given ; no equivoca 
tion ; no evasion." 

Since that speech was made, since the Senator has 
travelled from California to this place, the griev 
ances, the oppressions of Louisiana, have become so 
great that she is justified in going out of the Union, 
taking into her possession the custom-house, the 
mint, the navigation of the Mississippi River, the 
forts, and arsenals. Where are we ? " O Con- 


sistency, thou art a jewel much to be admired, but 
rarely to be found." 

Mr. President, I never do things by halves. I 
am against this doctrine entirely. I commenced 
making war upon it, a war for the Constitution 
and the Union, and I intend to sink or swim 
upon it. In the remarks that I made on the 
19th of December, I discussed at some length the 
alleo-ed ri^ht of secession. I repudiated the whole 

J^> O 1 

doctrine. I introduced authorities to show its un- 
soundness, and made deductions from those author 
ities which have not been answered to this day ; 
but by innuendo and indirection, without reference 
to the person who used the authorities, attempts 
have been made to answer the speech. Let those 
who can, answer the speech, answer the authorities, 
answer the conclusions which have been deduced 
from them. I was more than gratified, shortly 
afterwards, when one of the distinguished Sena 
tors from Virginia 1 delivered a speech upon this 
floor, which it was apparent to all had been studied 
closely ; which had been digested thoroughly ; which, 
in the language of another, had been conned and 
set down in a note-book, and got by rote ; not 
only the sentences constructed, but the language 
measured. In the plan which he proposed as one 
upon which the Government can be continued and 
administered, in his judgment, he brought his mind 
seemingly, irresistibly, to the conclusion that this 
doctrine of secession was a heresy. What does he 

l Mr. Hunter. 


say in that able, that methodical, that well-digested 
speech ? He goes over the whole ground. He 
has been reasoning on it ; he has been examining 
the principle of secession ; he has arrived at the 
conclusion to which it leads ; and he is seemingly 
involuntarily, but irresistibly, forced to admit that 
it will not do to acknowledge this doctrine of se 
cession, for he says : 

" I have presented this scheme, Mr. President, as one which, 
in my opinion, would adjust the differences between the two 
social systems, and which would protect each from the assault 
of the other. If this were done, so that we were made mutu 
ally safe, I, for one, would be willing to regulate the right 
of secession, which I hold to be a right not given in the 
Constitution, but resulting from the nature of the compact. 
I would provide that before a State seceded, it should summon 
a convention of the States in the section to which it belonged, 
and submit to them a statement of its grievances and wrongs. 
Should a majority of the States in such a convention decide 
the complaint to be well founded, then the State ought to be 
permitted to secede in peace. For, whenever a majority of 
States in an entire section shall declare that good cause for 
secession exists, then who can dispute that it ought to take 
place ? Should they say, however, that no good cause ex 
isted, then the moral force of such a decision, on the part of the 
confederates, of those who are bound to the complaining State 
by identical and homogeneous interests, would prevent it from 
prosecuting the claim any further." 

Sir, I quoted the Old Dominion extensively be 
fore. I took the foundation of this doctrine and 
traced it along step by step, and showed that there 
was no such notion tolerated by the fathers of the 


Republic as the right of secession. Now, who comes 
up to my relief? When the States are seceding, the 
distinguished Senator from Virginia says, in so many 
words, that he admits the error, and the force of the 
principle that a State ought not to be permitted to 
go out of the Confederacy without the consent of the 
remaining members. He says, however, that the 

rifflit to secede results from the nature of the com- 

pact. Sir, I have read Mr. Jefferson, and I am as 
much inclined to rely on the former distinguished 
men of the State of Virginia as I am on the latter. 
In the old Articles of Confederation, when the 
revenue required for the support of the Federal 
Government was apportioned among the States, arid 
each State had to raise its portion, the great diffi 
culty was, that there were no means by which the 
States could be compelled to contribute their 
amount ; there were no means of forcing the State 
to compliance ; and yet Mr. Jefferson, in view of 
that very difficulty, said in 1786 : - 

" It has been often said that the decisions of Congress are 
impotent, because the Confederation provides no compulsory 
power. But when two or more nations enter into compact, it 
is not usual for them to say what shall be done to the party 
who infringes it. Decency forbids this, and it is as unneces 
sary as indecent ; because the right of compulsion naturally 
results to the party injured by the breach. When any one 
State in the American Union refuses obedience to the Con 
federation by which they have bound themselves, the rest 
have a natural right to compel it to obedience." 

The Senator from Virginia says a State has tl.e 


right to secede from the Union, and that it is a right 
resulting from the nature of the compact ; but Mr. 
Jefferson said that even under the old Articles of 
Confederation, no State had a right to refuse obe 
dience to the Confederacy, and that there was a 
right to enforce its compliance, 

Congress would probably exercise long patience before 
they would recur to force ; but if the case ultimately required 
it, they would use that recurrence. Should this case ever 
arise, they will probably coerce by a naval force, as being 
more easy, less dangerous to liberty, and less likely to produce 
much bloodshed." 1 

When was this ? I have stated that it was under 
the old Articles of Confederation, when there was no 
power to compel a State even to contribute her pro 
portion of the revenues ; but in that view of the 
case, Mr. Jefferson said that the injured party had 
a right to enforce compliance with the compact from 
the offending State, and that this was a right de- 
ducible from the laws of nature. The present Con 
stitution was afterwards formed ; and to avoid this 
difficulty in raising revenue, the power was con 
ferred upon the Congress of the United States " to 
lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises," 
and the Constitution created a direct relation be 
tween the citizen and the Federal Government in 
that matter, and to that extent that relation is just 
as direct and complete between the Federal Govern 
ment and the citizen as is the relation between the 

1 Jeffersofi s Works, Vol. IX. p. 291. 


State and the citizen in other matters. Hence we 
find that, by an amendment to the Constitution of 
the United States, the citizens cannot even make a 
State a party to a suit, and bring her into the 
Federal courts. They wanted to avoid the difficulty 
of coercing a State, and the Constitution conferred 
on the Federal Government the power to operate 
directly upon the citizen, instead of operating on the 
States. It being the right of the Government to 
enforce obedience from the citizen in those matters 
of which it has jurisdiction, the question comes up 
as to the exorcise of this right. It may not always 
be expedient. It must depend upon discretion, as 
was eloquently said by the Senator from Kentucky 1 
on one occasion. It is a matter of discretion, even 
as Mr. Jefferson laid it down before this provi 
sion existed in the Constitution, before the Gov 
ernment h- id power to collect its revenue as it 
now has. I know that when, on a former occa 
sion, I undertook to show, as I thought I did show, 
clearly and distinctly, the difference between the 
existence and the exercise of this power, words 
were put into my mouth that I did not utter, and 
positions answered which I had never assumed. 
It was said that I took the bold ground of coercing 
a State. I expressly disclaimed it. I stated in my 
speech, that, by the Constitution, we could not put 
a State into court; but I said there were certain re 
lations created by the Constitution between the 
Federal Government and the citizen, and that we 
i Mr. Crittenden. 


could enforce those laws against the citizen. I took 
up the fugitive-slave law ; I took up the revenue law ; 
I took up the judicial system ; I took up the post- 
office system ; and I might have taken np the power 
to coin money and to punish counterfeiters, or the 
power to pass laws to punish mail robbers. I showed 
that under these we had power, not to punish a 
State, but to punish individuals as violators of the 
law. Who will deny it ; who can deny it, that 
acknowledges the existence of the Government ? 
This point, I think, was settled in the decision of the 
Supreme Court in the case of Ableman vs. Booth. 
When the decision of the Supreme Court is in our 
favor, we are very much for it ; but sometimes we 
are not so well reconciled to it when it is against us. 


In that case the court decided, 

" But, as we have already said, questions of this kind must 
always depend upon the Constitution and laws of the United 
States, and not of a State. The Constitution was not formed 
merely to guard the States against danger from foreign na 
tions, but mainly to secure union and harmony at home ; for 
if this object could be obtained, there would be but little 
danger from abroad ; and to accomplish this purpose, it was 
felt by the statesmen who framed the Constitution, and by 
the people who adopted it, that it was necessary that many 
of the rights of sovereignty which the States then possessed 
should be ceded to the General Government ; and that, in 
the sphere of action assigned to it, it should be supreme, and 
strong enough to execute its own laws by its own tribunals, 
without interruption from a State or from State authorities. 
And it was evident that anything short of this would be in 
adequate to the main objects for which the Government was 


established ; and that local interests, local passions or preju 
dices, incited and fostered by individuals for sinister purposes, 
would lead to acts of aggression and injustice by one State 
upon the rights of another, which would ultimately terminate 
in violence and force, unless there was a common arbiter 
between them, armed with power enough to protect and guard 
the rights of all, by appropriate laws, to be carried into exe 
cution peacefully by its judicial tribunals." * 

When the fugitive-slave law was executed in the 
city of Boston, by the aid of military force, was 
that understood to be coercing a State, or was it 
simply understood to be an enforcement of the law 
upon those who, it was assumed, had violated it ? 
In this same decision the Supreme Court declare 
that the fugitive-slave law, in all its details, is con 
stitutional, and therefore should be enforced. Who 
is prepared to say that the decision of the court shall 
not be carried out ? Who is prepared to say that 
the fugitive-slave law shall not be enforced ? Do 
you coerce a State when you simply enforce the 
law ? If one man robs the mail and you seek to 
arrest him, and he resists, and you employ force, do 
you call that coercion ? If a man counterfeits your 
coin, and is arrested and convicted, and punishment 
is resisted, cannot you execute the law ? It is true 
that sometimes so many may become infected with 
disobedience, outrages and violations of law may be 
participated in by so many, that they get beyond 
the control of the ordinary operations of law ; the 
disaffection may swell to such proportions as to 

1 Howard s Supreme Court Reports, Vol. XXI. p. 516. 


be too great for the Government to control ; and 
then it becomes a matter of discretion, not a matter 
of constitutional right. 

In this connection I desire to introduce an au 
thority from Virginia, for I do delight in authority 
from the Old Dominion ; and from the indications 
that are now visible although it is possible that 
before the setting of the sun I may receive news 
that will convert my present hopes and my present 
exhilarated feelings into despair she is going to 
make a stand for the Union and the Constitution. 
I delight in calling upon her for authority. The 
doctrine that I am trying to inculcate here to-day 
was the doctrine of Virginia in 1814 ; and I ask my 
friend from California to read an extract which I 
have from the " Richmond Enquirer " of the 1st of 
November, 1814. 

Mr. LATHAM read, as follows : 

"THE TRUE QUESTION. The Union is in Danger. Turn 
to the convention of Hartford, and learn to tremble at the 
madness of its authors. How far will those madmen advance ? 
Though they may conceal from you the project of disunion, 
though a few of them may have even concealed it from them 
selves, yet who will pretend to set bounds to the rage of dis 
affection ? One false step after another may lead them to 
resistance to the laws, to a treasonable neutrality, to a war 
against the Government of the United States. In truth, the 
first act of resistance to the law is treason to the United 
States. Are you ready for this state of things ? Will you 
support the men who would plunge you into this ruin ? 

" No man, no association of men, no State or set of States 
las a right to withdraw itself from this Union, of its own 


accord. The same power which knit us together can only 
unknit. The same formality which forged the links of the 
Union is necessary to dissolve it. The majority of States 
which form the Union must consent to the withdrawal of 
any one branch of it. Until that consent has been obtained, 
any attempt to dissolve the Union, or obstruct the efficacy 
of its constitutional laws, is treason treason to all intents 
and purposes. 

" Any other doctrine, such as that which has been lately 
held forth by the Federal Republican, that any one State 
may withdraw itself from the Union, is an abominable heresy 
which strips its author of every possible pretension to the 
name or character of a Federalist. 

u We call, therefore, upon the Government of the Union 
to exert its energies, when the season shall demand it and 
seize the first traitor who shall spring out of the hotbed of 
the convention of Hartford. This illustrious Union, which 
has been cemented by the blood of our forefathers, the pride 
of America and the wonder of the world, must not be tamely 
sacrificed to the heated brains or the aspiring hearts of a few 
malcontents. The Union must be saved, when any one shall 
dare to assail it. 

" Countrymen of the East ! we call upon you to keep a 
vigilant eye upon those wretched men who would plunge 
us into civil war and irretrievable disgrace. Whatever be 
the temporary calamities which may assail us, let us swear, 
upon the altar of our country, to SAVE THE UNIOX." 

Mr. JOHNSON continued : Mr. President, I sub 
scribe most heartily to the sentiment presented by 
the "Richmond Enquirer" of November 1, 1814. 
Then it was declared by that high authority that 
the Union was to be saved ; that those persons who 
were putting themselves in opposition to the law 
were traitors, and that their treason should be pun- 


ished as such. Now, sir, what is treason ? The 
Constitution of the United States defines it, and 
narrows it down to a very small compass. The Con 
stitution declares that " treason against the United 
States shall consist only in levying war against them, 
or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and 
comfort." Who are levying war upon the United 
States ? Who are adhering to the enemies of the 
United States, giving them aid and comfort? Does 
it require a man to take the lantern of Diogenes, 
and make a diligent search to find those who have 
been engaged in levvino- war against the United 

O 7 t/ O O 

States ? Will it require any very great research or 
observation to discover the adherents of those who 
are making war against the United States, and giv 
ing them aid and comfort ? If there are any such 
in the United States, they ought to be punished 
according to law and the Constitution. [Applause 
in the galleries, which was suppressed by the Pre 
siding officer, Mr. Fitch in the chair.] Mr. Ritchie, 
speaking for the Old Dominion, used language that 
was unmistakable : " The treason springing out of 
the hot-bed of the Hartford Convention should be 
punished." It was all right to talk about treason 
then; it was all right to punish traitors in that 
direction. For myself, I care not whether treason 
be committed North or South ; he that is guilty 
of treason deserves a traitor s fate. 

But, Mr. President, when we come to examine 
the views of some of those who have been engaged 

in this work, we find that the beginning of their - 


desire to break up the- Government dates beyond, 
and goes very far back of, any recent agitation of 
the slavery question. There are some men who 
want to break up this Government anyhow ; who 
want a separation of the Union. There are some 
who have got tired of a government l>y the people. 
They fear the people. Take the State of South 
Carolina. Although she has had Senators on this 
floor who have acted a portion of the time with the 
Democratic party, and sometimes with no party, 
there is, in that State, an ancient and a fixed oppo 
sition to a government by the people. They have 
an early prejudice against this thing called democ 
racy a government of the people. They enter 
tained the idea of secession at a very early day ; it 
is no new idea with them ; it has not arisen out of 
the slavery question and its recent agitation. Even 
to this day, the people, the freemen of South Caro 
lina, have never been permitted to vote for President 
and Vice-President of the United States. They 
have never enjoyed that great luxury of freemen, 
of having a voice in the selection of their Chief 

I have before me an old volume. In the fron 
tispiece I find a picture of " William Moultrie, Esq., 
late Governor of South Carolina, and Major-General 
in the American Revolutionary War." The book is 
entitled, " Memoirs of the American Revolution, so 
far as it related to the States of North and South 
Carolina and Georgia " ; and the author is William 
Moultrie. The Articles of Confederation, it will be 


remembered, were adopted July 9, 1778. South 
Carolina was one of the members of the Confederacy 
a party to the compact. Charleston was besieged 
during the Revolutionary War, in 1779, by the Brit 
ish. The defence of the town had been kept up for 
a considerable length of time, and at last General 
Moultrie sent a message to the British commander, 
desiring to know " on what terms he would be dis 
posed to grant a capitulation." The answer of Gen 
eral Prevost was submitted to the Governor, who 
summoned a council of war, and the result was the 
following message to the British commander : 

CHARLESTOWN, May 12, 1779. 

SIR : I cannot possibly agree to so dishonorable a propo 
sal as is contained in your favor of yesterday ; but if you will 
appoint an officer to confer on terms, I will send one to meet 
him, at such time and place as you fix on. 
I have the honor to be, &c., 

Brigadier-General PREVOST. 

This is to be found on pages 431 and 432 of Moul- 
trie s Memoirs. On the latter page he says, 

" When the question was carried for giving up the town 
upon a neutrality, I will not say who was for the question ; 
but this I well remember, that Mr. John Edwards, one of 
the Privy Council, a worthy citizen, and a very respectable 
merchant of Charlestown, was so affected as to weep, and 
said, What ! are we to give up the town at last ! 

He says that he endeavored to get a message 
earned from the Governor and Council to General 
Prevost. Those to whom he applied begged to be 


excused ; but finally he pressed them into a cora- 
plianee. The message was, 

" To propose a neutrality during the war between Great 
Britain and America, and the question whether the State 
shall belong to Great Britain, or remain one of the United 
States, be determined by the treaty of peace between those 
two Powers." 

The Governor, it seems, proposed a neutrality ; 
proposed to withdraw from the Confederacy, to de 
sist from resistance to Great Britain, and leave it to 
the two Powers, in making a treaty, to say whether 
they should remain a colony of Great Britain or be 
one of the United States. At this early day South 
Carolina was willing to go back and be subjected to 
the Crown of Great Britain under King Creorge III. 

Mr. WIGFALL. I ask the Senator merely to per 
mit me to correct him as to a fact. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I do not yield the floor. 

Mr. WIGFALL. I do not intend to interrupt 

Mr. JOHNSON. I do not yield the floor. 

The PRESIDING OFFICER. 1 The Senator from 
Tennessee is entitled to the floor. 

Mr. WIGFALL. The Articles of Confederation 
were formed in 1781 ; that is all. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I have them before me : "Articles 
of Confederation and Perpetual Union " ; and they 
end : " Done at Philadelphia, in the State of Penn 
sylvania, the 9th day of July, in the year of our 
Lord 1778." 

i Mr. Fitch. 


Mr. WIG FALL. They were ratified in 1781. If 
you will read history and inform yourself, you will 
not fall into so many errors : 1781 is the time ; I 
know it. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I will just refer to the docu 

Mr. WIGFALL. While the Senator is looking over 
it, I will merely observe that I made the correction 
out of kindness to him. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I always prefer having correct 
ideas, and selecting my own sources of informa 
tion. [Laughter.] 

Mr. WIGFALL. The year 1781 was the time the 
Articles of Confederation were ratified. You were 
simply mistaken ; that is all. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I do not accept the correction, 
nor have I very much respect for the motive that 
prompted it. Let that be as it may, however, it 
does not change the great historical fact that at that 
day, instead of holding out with the other colonies 
who were members of the Confederacy and engaged 
in the war, South Carolina was willing to enter into 
an agreement of neutrality, and go back under the 
protection of King George III. 

I have another document that I wish to read 
from ; a book called " The Remembrancer, or Im 
partial Repository of Public Events for the year 
1780." In that year the people of Charleston, a 
large number of them, in view of the difficulties then 
upon the country, prepared an address, which I ask 



my friend from California, who reads so much bet 
ter than I do, to read for me. 
Mr. LATHAM read as follows : 

To their Excellencies, SIR HENRY CLINTON, Knight of the 
Bath, General of his Majesty s forces, and MARIOT AR- 
BURTHNOT, Esq., Vice- Admiral of the Blue, his Majesty s 
Commissioners to restore peace and good government in the 
several colonies in rebellion in North America: 
The humble address of divers inhabitants of Charles- 
town : 

The inhabitants of Charlestown, by the articles of capit 
ulation, are declared prisoners of war on parole ; but we, 
the underwritten, having every inducement to return to 
our allegiance, and ardently hoping speedily to be read 
mitted to the character and condition of British subjects, 
take this opportunity of tendering to your Excellencies our 
warmest congratulations on the restoration of this capital 
and province to their political connection with the Crown 
and Government of Great Britain ; an event which will add 
lustre to your Excellencies characters, and, we trust, en 
title you to the most distinguishing mark of the royal favor. 
Although the right of taxing America in Parliament excited 
considerable ferment in the minds of the people of this 
province, yet it may, with a religious adherence to truth, be 
affirmed that they did not entertain the most distant thought 
of dissolving the union that so happily subsisted between 
them and their parent country ; and when, in the progress of 
that fatal controversy, the doctrine of independency (which 
originated in the more northern colonies) made its appear 
ance among us, our nature revolted at the idea, and we look 
back with the most painful regret on those convulsions that 
gave existence to a power of subverting a constitution for 
which we always had, and ever shall retain, the most pro 
found veneration, and substituting in its stead a rank de 
mocracy, which, however carefully digested in theory, on 


being reduced into practice has exhibited a system of ty 
rannic domination only to be found among the uncivilized 
part of mankind or in the history of the dark and barbarous 
ages of antiquity. 

We sincerely lament that, after the repeal of those statutes 
which gave rise to the troubles in America, the overtures made 
by his Majesty s Commissioners, from time to time, were not 
regarded by our late rulers. To this fatal inattention are to 
be attributed those calamities which have involved our country 
in a state of misery and ruin from which, however, we trust 
it will soon emerge, by the wisdom and clemency of his Maj 
esty s auspicious Government, and the influences of pruden 
tial laws, adapted to the nature of the evils we labor under ; 
and that the people will be restored to those privileges, in the 
enjoyment whereof their former felicity consisted. 

Animated with these hopes, we entreat your Excellencies 
interposition in assuring his Majesty that we shall glory in 
every occasion of manifesting that zeal and affection for his 
person and Government with which gratitude can inspire 
a free and joyful people. 

Charlestown, June 5, 1780. 

[Signed by two hundred and ten of the principal inhab 
itants.] The Remembrancer, Part. II. 1 780, p. 84. 

Mr. JOHNSON continued : It will be seen, from 
these two documents, what the early notions of the 
people of South Carolina were. There never was, 
and I doubt very much whether, with a large por 
tion of them, there ever will be, any idea of the 
people governing themselves. They had, at that 
early day, a great aversion to a government by the 
people. It was repudiated ; and in the document 
which has just been read, signed by two hundred 
and ten citizens of Charleston, they proposed to pass 


back under the British Government. This carries 
out the previous proposition to remain with Great 
Britain by treaty stipulation, and not go through 
the Revolutionary struggle with the colonies with 
whom they had formed a confederation. 

Again : in 1833, under the pretence of resistance 
to the operation of our revenue system and to a pro 
tective tariff, they endeavored to break up the Gov 
ernment. They were overruled then. Their pride 
was wounded by that failure ; and their determina 
tion was fixed, whenever it was in their power, to 
break up this Government and go out of the Union. 
This feeling, I have no doubt, has existed there 
from that period to the present time. When we 
turn to the debates which recently took place in the 
South Carolina Convention, we find that Mr. Maxcy 
Gregg, Mr. Rhett, and others, said that their reason 
for going out of the Union now dates as far back as 
forty years ; some of them said thirty years, and 
some twenty. Mr. Gregg said, in the South Caro 
lina Convention, on the 21st of December last, 

" If we undertake to set forth all the causes, do we not dis 
honor the memory of all the statesmen of South Carolina, 
now departed, who commenced forty years ago a war against 
the tariff and against internal improvements, saying nothing 
of the United States Bank, and other measures, which may 
now be regarded as obsolete." 

Mr. Rhett, on the 24th of December, said, - 

" The secession of South Carolina is not an event of a day. 
It is not anything produced by Mr. Lincoln s election, or by 


the non-execution of the fugitive-slave law. It has been a 
matter which has been gathering head for thirty years." 

Hence we see that there is a design with some to 
break up this Government without reference to the 
slavery question ; and the slavery question is by 
them made a pretence for destroying this Union. 
They have at length passed their ordinance of seces 
sion ; they assume to be out of the Union ; they 
declare that they are no longer a member of the 
Confederacy. Now what are the other States called 
upon to do ? Are the other States called upon to 
make Soutli Carolina an exemplar ? Are those slave 
States who believe that freemen should govern and 
that freemen can take care of slave property, to be 
" precipitated into a revolution " by following the 
example of South Carolina ? Will they do it ? What 
protection, what security will Tennessee, will Ken 
tucky, will Virginia, will Maryland, or any other 
State, receive from South Carolina by following her 
example ? What protection can she give them ? On 
the contrary, she indulges in a threat towards them 
a threat that if they do not imitate her example 
and come into a new confederacy upon her terms, 
they are to be put under the ban, and their slave 
property to be subjected to restraint and restriction. 
What protection can South Carolina give Tennes- 
.iee ? Any ? None upon the face of the earth. 

Some of the men who are eno-ao-ed in the work 

o o 

of disruption and dissolution want Tennessee and 
Kentucky and Virginia to furnish them with men 


and money in the event of their becoming engaged 
in a war for the conquest of Mexico. The Tennes- 
seeans and Kentuckians and Virginians are very 
desirable when their men and their money are 
wanted ; but what protection does South Carolina 
give Tennessee ? If negro property is endangered 
in Tennessee, tve have to defend it and take care of 
it not South Carolina, which has been an apple 
of discord in this Confederacy from my earliest rec 
ollection to the present time, complaining of every 
thing, satisfied with nothing. I do not intend to be 
invidious, but I have sometimes thought that it 
would be a comfort if Massachusetts and South Car 
olina could be chained together as the Siamese twins, 
separated from the continent, and taken out to some 
remote and secluded part of the ocean, and there 
fast anchored, to be washed by the waves, and to 
be cooled by the winds ; and after they had been 
kept there a sufficient length of time, the people of 
the United States might entertain the proposition 
of taking them back. [Laughter.] They have 
been a source of dissatisfaction pretty much ever 
since they entered the Union ; and some experi 
ment of this sort, I think, would operate benefi 
cially upon them ; but as they are here, we must 
try to do the best we can with them. 


So much, Mr. President, for South Carolina and 
Louisiana in this struggle. I do not think they are 


setting examples very worthy of imitation. But, 
sir, the speech that I made on the 19th of Decem 
ber seems to have produced some little stir ; and 
among other distinguished Senators, the Senator 
from Oregon ] felt it his duty, late in the evening, 
to make a reply to me. I do not see why it was 
called for from the Senator from Oregon. I did 
not know that I had said anything that was of 
fensive to him ; it was not my intention to do so ; 
it was an inadvertence, if I did. I felt that I had 
just come out of a campaign in which I had labored 
hard, and in which I had expended my money and 
my time in vindicating him and the present Vice- 
President, who was a candidate for the Presidency, 
from the charge of favoring secession and disunion. 
Through the dust and heat, through the mud and 
rain, I traversed my State, meeting the charge of 
the Opposition that secession was at the bottom of 
this movement ; that there was a fixed design and 
plan to break up this Government ; that it started 
at Charleston, and was consummated at Baltimore ; 
and the charge was made that rny worthy friend 
if I may be permitted to call him such ; I thought 
I was his friend then was the embodiment of dis 
union and secession. I met the charge. I denied 


it. I repudiated it. I tried to convince the people 
and I think I did succeed in convincing some of 
them that the charge was untrue ; and that he 
and Mr. Breckinridge were the two best Union men 
in the country. I did not see what there was in my 
i Mr. Lane. 


speech that should extort reply from him, who re 
sided away North. I had not come in conflict with 
anything that he had said or done. When he was 
striking these blows at me without cause, I thought 
it was, at least, unkind. I may not have defended 
him to his entire satisfaction. It so turned out that 
we were unfortunate ; we were defeated ; but I was 
willing to stand like a man ; to stand upon the Con-/ 
stitution and the Union, and, if I must fall, fall 
decently. After I had gone through the canvass ; 
after I had defended the Senator, and sustained him 
with my voice and my vote, I thought it was strange 
that he should attack me in the manner he did. I 
felt like replying to him, on the spur of the occa 
sion ; but it was late in the evening, and by the 
time he had concluded, the Senate was tired out, 
and I declined going on. I preferred to let it pass, 
and submit to all the wrong and injury inflicted 
upon me. In his speech upon that occasion, the 
Senator from Oregon made use of the following 
language : 

" He [alluding to myself] has spoken very handsomely of 
the gallant conduct of that glorious band, the Northern De 
mocracy of the country, who, though in a minority at home, 
have struggled for the rights of their Southern brethren 
for the equality and rights of all the States. I belong to 
that portion of the people of this country ; and I will say 
to that honorable gentleman that while they struggle for the 
constitutional rights of the other States of the Union, as 
they have always done, and as they will continue to do, thero 
is one thing that they will not do : they will not march under 


his banner to strike down a gallant, chivalrous, and generous 
people, contending for rights that have been refused them by 
the other States of this Union. They will not march with 
him under his bloody banner, or Mr. Lincoln s, to invade the 
soil of the gallant State of South Carolina when she may 
withdraw from a Confederacy that has refused her that 
equality to which she is entitled, as a member of the Union, 
under the Constitution. On the contrary, when he or any 
other gentleman raises that banner and attempts to subjugate 
that gallant people, instead of marching with him, we will 
meet him there, ready to repel him and his forces. He shall 
not bring with him the Northern Democracy to strike down 
a people contending for rights that have been refused them 
in a Union that ought to recognize the equality of every 
member of the Confederacy." 

I do not know that I used any argument that 
should have caused a reply like that. Did anybody 
hear me use the term " bloody banner"? Did any 
body hear me talk about marching down upon South 
Carolina ? Did anybody hear me speak about co 
ercing a State ? No. 


Mr. LAXE. Will the Senator allow me a word ? 

Mr. JOHXSOX. I would rather go on, sir. Why, 
then, answer positions I did not assume, or attribute 
to me language that I did not use ? Was it in the 
speech ? Xo. Why, then, use language and assign 
a position to me which, if not intended, was cal 
culated to make a false impression ? What called 
it forth ? What reason was there for it ? I saw the 
consternation which was created. I looked at sonne 
of their faces. I knew that I had stirred up ani 
mosity, and it was important that somebody from 



another quarter should make the attack. If the 
attack had been upon what I said or upon the posi 
tion I had assumed, I should have no cause to com 
plain ; and I do not complain now. Sir, though 
not very old, I have lived down some men. I have 
survived many misrepresentations. I feel that I 
have a conscience and a heart that will lead me to 
do it ao-ain. But when I had said nothing, when I 

& O 

had done nothing, to be struck by him whom I have 
vindicated, I might well have exclaimed, " That 
was the unkindest cut of all." 
Again : the Senator said, 

" If it should come unfortunately upon this country, in 
augurated by a tyrant, who would like to conquer and hold 
American citizens as vassals, then I will say to that coward 
who would do it, You will walk over your humble servant s 
body first. I shall never cooperate with any portion of this 
country, North or South, that would strike down a people 
contending for their rights." 

I march down upon South Carolina ! Did I pro 
pose any such thing ? No. War is not the natural 
element of my mind ; and, as I stated in that speech, 
my thoughts were turned on peace, and not on war. 
I want no strife. I want no war. In the language 
of a denomination that is numerous in the country, 
I may say I hate war and love peace. I belong to 
the peace party. I thought, when I was making 
that speech, that I was holding out the olive-branch 
of peace. I wanted to give quiet and reconciliation 
to a distracted and excited country. That was the 


object I bad in view. War, I repeat, is not tbe 
natural element of my mind. I would rather wear 
upon my garments tbe dinge of tbe shop and tbe 
dust of the field, as badges of tbe pursuits of peace, 
than tbe gaudy epaulet upon my shoulder, or a 
sword dangling by my side, with its glittering scab 
bard, tbe insignia of strife, of war, of blood, of car 
nage ; sometimes of honorable and glorious war. 
But, sir, I would rather see the people of the United 
States at war with every other Power upon the 
habitable globe, than to be at war with each other. 
If blood must be shed, let it not be shed by the 
people of these States, the one contending against 
the other. 

But tbe Senator went on still further in that dis 
cussion. Why it was necessary to follow up his 
attack upon me, I cannot tell. Alluding to the 
Senator from Tennessee, he said, 

" He took occasion to give an account of the action of the 
Senate upon certain resolutions introduced here, setting forth 
the principles that were made the issue in the late contest, 
and that were overridden and trodden down. He called the 
attention of the Senate to a proposition introduced by the 
honorable Senator from Mississippi * to declare that now is 
the time for action ; that a law ought to be passed at this 
time protecting property in the Territories. Though it was 
my opinion then that it would have been well to pass such 
a law, yet that Senator knew, and so did every other one, 
that it was impossible in this Congress to pass such a law. 
We might have passed such a bill through this body, but it 
could never have passed the other. Then it was our duty, 
1 Mr. Brown. 


as it was our privilege, to set forth the principles on which 
this Government reposed, and which must be maintained, or 
the Government cannot exist. They were the principles 
upon which this great battle was fought, that resulted in 
the election of Mr. Lincoln." 

Before I take up that proposition in connection 
with what I said before, I wish to say here that, 
had the Senator avowed the doctrine prior to the 
last presidential election that he avowed here in 
reply to me, expressing his secession and disunion 
sentiments, I give it as my opinion that he could 
not have obtained ten thousand votes in the State 
of Tennessee in the last election, and I think I 
know what I say. I give that, however, simply 
as my opinion. 

But to come back to the point at which the Sen 
ator speaks of the resolutions introduced by the 
Senator from Mississippi. 1 I had referred to those 
resolutions to show that there was no occasion for 
this immediate secession without giving the people 
time to think or understand what was to be done. 
I thought so then, and I think so now ; and I want 
to show what the Senator s views were then, and 
see what has brought about such a change upon 
his mind since. We find that while those resolu 
tions were under consideration, Mr. CLINGMAN of 
fered an amendment, to come in after the fourth 
resolution, to insert the following : 

" Resolved, That the existing condition of the Territories 
1 Mr. Davis. 


of the United States does not require the intervention of 
Congress for the protection of property in slaves. 

"On the question to agree to the amendment proposed 
by Mr. BKOWN, to wit: Strike out of the amendment the 
word not, 

" It was determined in the negative y^as five, nays forty- 

Now, by striking out the word " not," it makes 
the resolution read, 

u Revolved, That the existing condition of the Territories 
of the United States does require the intervention of Con 
gress for the protection of property in slaves." 

Mr. BROWX of Mississippi moved to strike out 
the word " not," thereby making it read that the 
condition of the Territories does require the pro 
tection of Congress for slave property ; and upon 
the yeas and nays being taken on that motion to 
strike out the word " not," there were yeas 
five, nays forty-three. 

" On motion of Mr. CLINGMAN, 

" The yeas and nays being desired by one fifth of the 
Senators present, 

" Those who voted in the affirmative are : Messrs. Brown, 
Clay, Iverson, Johnson of Arkansas, Yulee. 

" Those who voted in the negative are : Messrs. Benjamin, 
Bigler, Bingham, Bragg, Bright, Chandler, Chesnut, Clark, 
Clingman, Collamer, Crittenden, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, 
Fitzpatrick, Foot, Green, Gwin, Hale, Hamlin, Hammond, 
Hemphill, Hunter, Johnson of Tennessee, Kennedy, Lane, 
Latham, Mallory, Mason, Nicholson, Pearce, Polk, Powell, 
Pugh, Rice, Sebastian. Slidell, Ten Eyck, Toombs, Trumbull, 
Wade, Wigfall, Wilson." 

Thus, forty-three Senators recorded their vote 



during the last session of Congress that it was 
not necessary to pass a law to protect slavery in 
the Territories. The Senator from Oregon, in 
connection with other Senators, under the solemn 
sanction of an oath, declared that it was not neces 
sary to pass laws for the protection of slavery in 
the Territories. What right has South Carolina 
lost since the last session ? What right has any 
State lost since the last session of Congress? You 
declared that it was not necessary to pass a law to 
protect them in the enjoyment of their property in 
the Territories; and now, forsooth, in the short 
space of two or three moons, you turn around and 
tell the country that States are justified in going 
out of the Union because Congress will not pass a 
law to protect them in the enjoyment of their prop 
erty in the Territories, when you said it was not 
necessary ! That is what I call driving the nail in. 
[Laughter.] I will remark, as I go along, that 
the eloquent and distinguished Senator who made 
his valedictory here yesterday, on retiring from the 
Senate, voted for that identical resolution. This 
protection was not necessary then. They said it 
was wholly unnecessary. But since that they have 
waked up to a sense of its necessity, and resolved 
to secede if it should not be granted. To this 
same proposition Mr. ALBERT G. BROWN offered an 
amendment. Mark you, this is the 25th day of 
May, 1860 ; and that is not long ago. 

" On motion by Mr. BROWN, to amend the resolution by 


striking out all after the word resolved, and in lieu thereof, 
inserting : " 

I wish I had the whole continent here to hear 
this paragraph : 

" That experience having already shown that the Constitu 
tion and the common law, unaided by statutory enactment, 
do not afford adequate and sufficient protection to slave prop 
erty ; some of the Territories having failed, others having 
refused to pass such enactments, it has become the duty of 
Congress to interpose and pass such laws as will afford to slave 
property in the Territories that protection which is given to 
other kinds of property." 

That is a pretty clear proposition. Upon thai, 
Mr. BROWN made an argument, showing the num 
ber of slaves in the Territories, and the action of 
the Legislatures, and concluded that if the time 
ever would arrive, it was then before Congress, 
and they should pass a law on the subject. What 
was the vote upon that? How does it stand? 
We find, after an argument being made by Mr. 
BROWN, showing that the necessity did exist, ac 
cording to his argument, the vote upon the prop 
osition stood thus: The question being taken by 
yeas and nays, it was determined in the negative 
yeas three, nays forty-two. 

Forty-two Senators voted that you did not need 
protection ; that slavery was not in danger. 

" The yeas and nays being desired by one fifth of the 
Senators present, 

" Those who voted in the affirmative are : Messrs. Brown, 
Johnson of Arkansas, Mallory." 


There were only three. Who said it was not 
necessary ? Who declared, under the solemn sanc 
tion of an oath, that protection was not needed ? 

" Those who voted in the negative, are : Messrs. Benja 

Ah ! Yes ; BENJAMIN ! 

"Bigler, Bragg, Bright, Chesnut, Clark, Clay, Clingman, 
Crittenden, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, Fitzpatrick, Foot, 
Foster, Green, Grimes, Gwin, Hamlin, Harlan, Hemphill, 

HUNTER of Virginia, also ! 
44 Iverson, Johnson of Tennessee, Lane." 

Ah ! [Laughter.] Yes, LANE of Oregon voted 
on the 25 tli day of last May, that slavery did not 
need protection in the Territories. Now he will get 
up and tell the American people and the Senate that 
he is for a State seceding, and for breaking up the 
Government, because they cannot get what he swore 
they did not need. [Laughter.] That is what I call 
putting the nail through. [Laughter in the gal 

The PRESIDING OFFICER. 1 The galleries must 
preserve order. 

Mr. JOHNSON continued : Then, after voting 
that it was not necessary to have a proposition 
to protect slavery in the Territories, the original 
proposition, as amended, was adopted by a vote 
of thirty-five yeas to two nays ; thus voting all the 
way through, even to the final action of the Senate, 

* 1 Mr. Fitch in the chair. 


that no such protection was necessary. You have 
not got protection, your rights, your "equality"; 
and you tell me now by your position that I have 
done you injustice by defending you against the 
charge that you were in favor of a dissolution of the 
Union ! Even if you approved it, it would only 
show that I was mistaken. I was deceived then ; 
that was your fault; if deceived again, the fault 
will be mine. I assumed, on that occasion, in 
reference to the act of ratification of the Consti 
tution by the State of Virginia, that so far as I 
was capable of examining it, Virginia had made 
no reservation, no condition, in her ratification of 
the Constitution of the United States. I had ex 
amined the question ; I had looked at all th& 
authorities that could be found upon the subject, 
and I could find no warrant for the assertion ; but 
still the Senator from Oregon, in his reply to me, 
spoke with great familiarity of the proceedings of 
that convention ratifying the Constitution, as 
though he understood it ; and with great con 
fidence said it had made a reservation. I will 
read what he said : 

" That gallant old State of Virginia, that glorious Old 
Dominion, made a condition upon which she adopted the 
Constitution. It became a portion of the compact. And 
not only Virginia, but New York, made the same condition 
when she adopted the Constitution ; and Rhode Island also." 

He spoke with great confidence in this reply to 
me. He then said : 


" Now, I would ask the honorable Senator from Tennessee, 
if the time has not arrived when these States ought to resume 
the powers conferred on a Federal Government ; or if it has 
not, I should like to know when the time can come." 

After declaring under the solemn sanction of an 
oath that no protection was needed, and nothing 
else has since transpired, he wants to know when 
the time will come, if it has not come, that they 
will be justified in breaking up this Confederacy? 
I saw a good deal of the confusion manifested here 
that evening ; authorities were hunted up, para 
graphs marked, and leaves turned down ; all, I 
suppose, to facilitate the intended attack. Some 
times a man had a great deal better read and 
understand a question for himself before lie hazards 
an opinion. I will not say that that is the case 
with the honorable Senator, for I should proceed 
upon the idea that he was laboring under the im 
pression that he understood it exactly. It is not a 
very uncommon occurrence to be mistaken. Some 
times the mistake results from a want of exam 
ination ; sometimes from an incapacity to under 
stand the subject, and various other causes. So 
it is that it occurs very frequently we labor under 
false impressions. We find, when we come to 
examine this subject of the ratification of the Con 
stitution by Virginia, that a committee was ap 
pointed in the convention of Virginia, and that 
that committee reported a set of resolutions. They 


reported one resolution in lieu of the preamble. 
That resolution is as follows : 

" Resolved, That previous to the ratification of the new 
Constitution of Government recommended by the late Fed 
eral Convention, a declaration of rights, asserting and secur 
ing from encroachment the great principles of civil and 
religious liberty, and the inalienable rights of the people, 
together with amendments to the most exceptionable parts 
of the said Constitution of Government, ought to be referred 
by this convention to the other States in the American Con 
federacy for their consideration." 1 

Here was a proposition making conditions ; and 
upon a vote to adopt this amendment it was voted 
down ayes eighty, noes eighty-eight. Then 
what follows? The committee reported an ordi 
nance adopting the Constitution of the United 
States ; but in their ordinance they go on and 
make a kind of preamble, or a whereas, a decla 
ration as to their understanding not conditions, 
not reservations but a declaration of their un 
derstanding. What do they say ? 

" We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected 
in pursuance of a recommendation from the General As 
sembly, and now met in convention, having fully and freely 
investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal 
Convention, and being prepared as well as the most mature 
deliberations hath enabled us, to decide thereon," 

Now, mark you, 

" do, in the name and in the behalf of the people of Vir 
ginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted 

1 EllioCs Dtbatt*. Vol. III. p. 653. 


under the Constitution, being derived from the people of 
the United States, be resumed by them whensoever the 
same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." l 

They declare, in behalf of Virginia, that the 
powers of the Constitution are derived from the 
people of the United States, to "be resumed by 
them whenever they shall be converted to their 
injury or oppression." Who is to resume them ? 
The people of the United States. That idea was 
always inculcated by James Madison. What more 
do they say ? This is not the ratifying clause. 
They say, 

" With these impressions," 

Not these conditions, not these reservations, 

" With these impressions, with a solemn appeal to the 
Searcher of hearts, for the purity of our intentions, and 
under the conviction that whatsoever imperfections may 
exist in the Constitution ought rather to be examined in 
the mode prescribed therein, than to bring the Union into 
danger by delay with a hope of obtaining amendments pre 
vious to the ratification," 

Now comes the ordinance of adoption ; and 
what is it? 

" We, the said delegates, in the name and behalf of the 
people of Virginia, do, by these presents, assent to and ratify 
the Constitution, recommended on the 1 7th day of September, 
1787, by the Federal Convention, for the Government of the 
United States ; hereby announcing to all whom it may concern 
that the said Constitution is binding upon the said people, 
according to an authentic copy hereunto annexed in the 
words following." 2 

l EltioVs Debates, Vol. III. p. 656. 2 Idem. 


Is there any reservation or condition there ? It 
seems to me that the sight of a man would be 


tolerably keen that could see a condition there. 
When was this ? We find that Virginia adopted 
that on Tuesday, June 26, 1788. When did South 
Carolina come into the Union ? Before Virginia 
did. If Virginia made a condition. South Caro 
lina was already in. How many States were in ? 
The covenant was formed and had been ratified 
by nine States before Virginia came into the Union. 
The idea of Virginia appending conditions after 
the Government was formed and the Constitution 
ratified by nine States ! 

But, to make this thing more clear, Mr. Madison, 
while in New York, received a letter from Mr. 
Hamilton, stating that he had some doubts as to 
the ratification of the Constitution by New York ; 
that they wanted some conditions, and one condi 
tion was, that they might have the privilege to 
recede within five or seven years in the event cer 
tain amendments were not adopted to the Consti 
tution. I should have remarked, before passing 
to this, that they adopted it, not wanting delay, 
and then went in the same committee to report a 
long list of amendments to be submitted, and some 
of them were ratified afterwards by the different 
States. Mr. Madison writes, in reply to Mr. Ham 
ilton, and tells him, if the Constitution is adopted, 
it must be adopted in toto, without reservation or 
condition. I am inclined to think Mr. Madison had 



some idea of this ordinance. I think he understood 
it. Here is his letter. That ordinance was adopted 
in Virginia on June 26, 1787, and, in reply to 
Mr. Hamilton, in the following July, Mr. Madison 

" The idea of reserving a right to withdraw was started at 
Richmond, and considered as a conditional ratification, which 
was itself abandoned as worse than a rejection." 

Does not that show that I have put the correct 
interpretation upon it ? James Madison under 
stood it as being an abandonment. I would as 
soon rely upon his construction of the ordinance 
that brought Virginia into the Union as I would 
on that of the distinguished Senator from Oregon. 
I am inclined to think he was quite as familiar 
with the history of that transaction and with the 
whole subject as the Senator from Oregon, with 
all his familiarity and astuteness on the subject. 
So much in answer to that portion of the Sena 
tor s argument. We find, upon an examination, 
as I before remarked, that nine States had ratified 
the Constitution before Virginia came in. New 
York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island came in 
afterwards. Mr. Madison so understood it. The 
fathers of the Republic so understood it. The 
country so understand it. Common sense so un 
derstands it. Practicability so understands it. 
Everything that pertains to the preservation and 
salvation of the Government so understands it, as 
contradistinguished from the admission of this 
doctrine of secession. 


But let us progress a little further. The Gov 
ernment was formed ; the Constitution was rati 
fied ; and after the Constitution was ratified and 
the Government in existence, there is provision 
made, for what ? " New States may be admitted 
by the Congress into this Union." These are 
the words of the Constitution. Congress has the 
power to prescribe the terms and conditions of 
admission of a new State into the Union ; and in 
the discretion of Congress, they are admitted upon 
an equal footing with the other States. It being 
an express grant to admit, I say the Federal Gov 
ernment can exercise incidents that are necessary 
and proper to carry the admission of States into 
existence upon such a basis as they believe the 
good of the Government demands. I am not so 
sure but the admission of a new State is placed 
upon a different ground from that of one of the 
original States ratifying the Constitution. As the 

& */ C? 

Senator seems to be so familiar with things of this 
sort, I will refer to the act admitting the State of 
Alabama : 

An act to enable the people of Alabama Territory to form 
a Constitution and State Government, and for the admission 
of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the 
original States. (Approved March 2, 1819.) 

Be it enacted, &fc., That the inhabitants of the Territory 
of Alabama be, and they are hereby, authorized to form for 
themselves a Constitution and State Government, and to as 
sume such name as they may think proper ; and that the 
said Territory, when formed into a State, shall be admitted 


into the Union upon the same footing with the original 
States, in all respects whatever. 

Here is the ordinance of Alabama accepting the 
terms of the above act, passed 2d August, 1819 : 

" This convention, for and in behalf of the people inhab 
iting this State, do accept the propositions offered by the 
act of Congress under which they are assembled ; and this 
convention, for and in behalf of the people inhabiting this 

State, do ordain, agree, and declare." 

" And this ordinance is hereby declared irrevocable without 
the consent of the United States." 

This act was declared irrevocable. They agreed 
to the conditions offered to them in the act of Con 
gress with reference to the public lands and other 
subjects, and then the ordinance of coining into the 
Union was declared irrevocable without the con 
sent of the United States. Congress then passed 
an act accepting them upon the terms they im 
posed. That was the compact. What has been 
done to Alabama ? What great complaint has she ? 
Why should she leave the Union in such hot 
haste ? 

So much for that, sir. In the remarks that I 
ma^Je when I last addressed the Senate, I referred 
to the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, 
which was adopted in 1796, and their Bill of Rights, 
in which they declare that they would never sur 
render or give up the navigation of the Missis 
sippi to any people. The Senator from Oregon, 
or that occasion, in reply to me, used the follow 
ing language : 


" Then he is concerned about the navigation of the Mis 
sissippi River. He says that the great State of Tennessee 
and he, himself, are concerned about the navigation of that 
river. I believe it is recognized as the law of nations, as the 
law of all civilized nations, that a great inland sea running 
through several Governments shall be open equally to all of 
them ; and besides, as the honorable Senator from Louisiana- 
said, there is no man in Louisiana that would think for a 
moment of depriving Tennessee of the right of navigating 
that great river. No, sir, nor Kentucky either, nor Indiana, 
nor Illinois, nor any other State whose waters flow into that 
mighty stream. No such thing would ever be done." 

That was the Senator s declaration then, that 
nobody would question the right of those States 
to navigate that great inland sea. He seemed to 
show great familiarity with international law. I 
took it for granted that he had read Grotius and 
Wheaton upon international law, and all the other 
authorities on the subject, for he spoke about it 
with great familiarity, as if he understood it well. 
How does the matter stand, sir ? Before the 
printer s ink that impressed his speech upon the 
paper is dry, we find an ordinance passed, as I 
remarked before, by the State of Louisiana, de- 
clarin<r negatively that she has the riirht to control 

O O / v3 

the navigation of that river under her act of se 
cession. If the Senator had put himself to the 
trouble, as I presume he did, or ought to have 
done, to examine this subject, he would have found 
that the navigation of the Mississippi River has been 
a subject of negotiation for years upon years. He 
would have fourrd that the navigation of various 



rivers tlirougliout the world has been the subject 
of long, angry, and contested negotiation. While 
upon this point, I desire to present to the Senate 
an extract from a leading authority on this sub 
ject. I read from Wheaton s " Elements of Inter 
national Law " : 

" The territory of the State includes the lakes, seas, and 
rivers entirely enclosed within its limits. The rivers which 
flow through the territory also form a part of the domain, 
from their sources to their mouths, or as far as they flow 
within the territory, including the bays or estuaries formed 
by their junction with the sea. Where a navigable river 
forms the boundary of coterminous States, the middle of the 
channel, or thalweg, is generally taken as the line of separa 
tion between the two States, the presumption of law being 
that the right of navigation is common to both ; but this pre 
sumption may be destroyed by actual proof of prior occupancy 
and long undisturbed possession, giving to one of the riparian 
proprietors the exclusive title to the entire river. 

u Things of which the use is inexhaustible, such as the sea 
and running water, cannot be so appropriated as to exclude 
others from using these elements in any manner which does 
not occasion a loss or inconvenience to the proprietor. This 
is what is called an innocent use. Thus we have seen that 
the jurisdiction possessed by one nation over sounds, straits, 
and other arms of the sea leading through its own territoiy 
to that of another, or to other seas common to all nations, 
does not exclude others from the right of innocent passage 
through these communications. The same principle is appli 
cable to rivers flowing from one State through the territory 
of another into the s* a, or into the territory of a third State. 
The right of navigating, for commercial purposes, a river, 
which flows through the territories of different States, is com 
mon to all the nations inhabiting the different parts of its 


banks ; but this right of innocent passage being what the text, 
writers call an imperfect right, its exercise is necessarily modi 
fied by the safety and convenience of the State affected by 
it, and can only be effectually secured by mutual convention 
regulating the mode of its exercise. 

" It seems that this right draws after it the incidental right 
of using all the means which are necessary to the secure en 
joyment of the principal right itself. Thus the Roman law, 
which considered navigable rivers as public or common prop 
erty, declared that the right to the use of the shores was 
incident to that of the water ; and that the right to navigate 
a river involved the right to moor vessels to its banks, to lade 
and unlade cargoes, &c. The public jurists apply this prin 
ciple of the Roman civil law to the same case between nations, 
and infer the right to use the adjacent land for these purposes, 
as means necessary to the attainment of the end for which 
the free navigation of the water is permitted." * 

Now, what are we told ? That Louisiana, for 
which we paid $15,000,000, whose battles we 
fought, whose custom-houses, forts, arsenals, dock 
yards, and hospitals we built, in the exercise of 
the plenitude of her power, declares that she has 
control of the Mississippi, and such States may 
navigate that stream as are on friendly relations 
with her, she being the judge. Is not this what 
the dogma of secession leads us to ? We see where 
it carries us ; we see in what it will end litiga 
tion, war, and bloodshed. As I remarked before, 
as we approach and advance in the investigation 
of the subject, we discover its enormities more and 

1 Wheaton s Elements of International Law, Part II. chap. 4, pp. 


more. I repeat, it is the prolific mother of anarchy, 
which is the next step to despotism itself. The 
Senator from Oregon seems not to be apprehensive 
at all ; and yet, before his voice has done reverber 
ating in the Hall, we have the open declaration 
that they intend to exercise the control of the 
navigation of the Mississippi. Would it not have 
been better for Louisiana 

Mr. LANE. I think the Senator ought to allow 
me to say a word. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I do not want to be interrupted. 
I certainly mean no discourtesy at all to the Sen 

Mr. LANE. I only wish to say, in the way of 
explanation, that the people of New Orleans have 
had police regulations by which they have collected 
taxes to improve their wharves ever since New 
Orleans belonged to this country. 

Mr. JOHNSON. It is a very common thing in 
all cities where there are wharves, either on the 
river or ocean, to have what is commonly called a 
wharfage tax. We understand that. The naviga 
tion of the high seas and rivers is a different thing 
from paying wharfage and a little tax to defray the 
expense of keeping wharves and docks up. We 
understand all about that. That is a very different 
affair from placing batteries at this early day upon 
the banks of that great stream. 

Mr. LANE. That was against the common enemy. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I did not know we had any ene- 


mies in these States. I thought we were brothers, 
and were entitled to cany on free trade from one 
extremity of this Confederacy to the other. I did 
not know that the people of Indiana and Illinois 
and Kentucky and Tennessee, going along down 
that river, had got to be enemies. I suppose, how 
ever, when we look at these things our minds change 
and vary by varying circumstances. When we are 
candidates for the Presidency, we feel more like 
brothers ; but when we have made the experiment, 
and signally failed, I suppose the enemy s line be 
gins just at the line where our defeat was consum 
mated. [Laughter and applause in the galleries.] 

The PRESIDING OFFICER called to order. 

Mr. JOHNSON continued: How long has it 
been since we were prepared to go to war with the 
most formidable Power upon earth because she 
claimed the right of search ? We would not con 
cede to Great Britain the right of searching our 
ships on the high seas ; and yet what do we now 
see ? Batteries placed upon the banks of the Mis 
sissippi to enforce the right of search. Do we not 
see where it will lead? Do we not all know in 
what it will end ? 

I have no disposition to do the Senator from 
Oregon, or any other Senator, injustice. In this 
connection, I will say, as I have intimated before, 
that I thought his attack upon me unkind and 
uncalled for. Let that be as it may, it is not my 
disposition or my intention, on this occasion, to do 


him injustice. I intend to do him full justice. In 
the reply that he made to me to which I yes 
terday referred he gave the contradiction di 
rect to what I stated in the presidential canvass,* 
in answer to the charge that had been made that 
you, Mr. President, and the Senator from Oregon, 
were disunionists, were in favor of secession ; and 
that you were used by what was called the seced 
ing or disunion party for the purpose of disrupting 
and breaking up the Government. I met those 
charges because I believed they were untrue, 
that they were not founded in fact in various 
places, before large assemblies, and, I thought, suc 
cessfully, at least to my own mind, exonerated you 
and the candidate for the Vice-Presidency from the 
charge. I confess it was somewhat mortifying to 
me, after the reply which the Senator made, to 
have to say to the people, and the country generally, 
that I vindicated him against a charge which was 
true; for, when we take up his speech here in 
reply to the remarks that I made on that occasion, 
none of which had the slightest reference to him, 
involving neither his position before the country, 
nor his consistency as a legislator, we find that 
he took bold ground, advocating and justifying se 
cession, arguing, in fact, that it was constitutional. 
I felt, after that speech, that I was involved in 
inconsistency before my people, an inconsistency in 
which I ought not to have been involved. 


But in the same speech in which the honorable 


Senator involved me in these contradictions, he goes 
on to state, and I will do him justice by reading 
his speech, for I do not want to misquote him, 

" But, sir, understand me ; I am not a disunion ist. I am 
for the right, and I would have it in the Union ; and if it 
cannot be obtained there, I would go out of the Union, and 
have that out of the Union that I could not obtain in it, though 
I was entitled to it." 

Mr. President, I have called the attention of the 
Senate to the paragraph of the Senator s speech 
which I have just read, in which he disavows dis 
union sentiments ; but when you take the preceding 
part of his speech, you find that he advocates the 
doctrine of disunion and secession almost from the 
beginning up to the sentence that I have read. 
It seems to me it is paradoxical ; but that may 
be my misfortune, not his. He may be capable of 
reconciling the conflict, the seeming inconsistency 
of first advocating the doctrine of dissolution, seces 
sion, and disunion, and then at the same time ex 
claiming that he is no disunionist. I do not know 
how a Senator can be for the Union, and at the 
same time concede the right that a State has the 
authority to secede under the Constitution ; that it 
is justified in seceding, and ought to secede ; that 
when it demands rights in the Union that it can 
not get, it should go out of the Union to obtain 
that which could not be obtained in it. But let all 
that pass. I wish to do him no injustice ; therefore 


I desired to call attention to his disclaimer of being 
a disunionist and a secessionist. 

Mr. President, the Senator, in the sentence I have 
quoted, assumes that South Carolina, for instance, 
had the right to secede ; and he says also that Soutli 
Carolina can obtain that out of the Union which she 
has failed to obtain in it. Let us raise the inquiry 
here : What is it, since she entered into this Con 
federacy of States, that South Carolina has desired 
or asked at the hands of the Federal Government, 
or demanded upon constitutional ground, that she 
has not obtained ? What great wrong, what great 
injury has been inflicted upon South Carolina by 
her continuance in this Union of States ? I know 
it is very easy, and even Senators have fallen into 
the habit of it, to repeat some phrases almost as a 
chorus to a song, such as, " If we cannot get our 
rights in the Union, we will go out of the Union 
and obtain those rights ; that we are for the equality 
of the States in the Union, and if we cannot get it 
we will go out of the Union," I suppose to bring 
about that equality. What is the point of contro 
versy in the public mind at this time ? Let us look 
at the question as it is. We know that the issue 
which has been before the country to a very great 
extent, and which, in fact, has recently occupied the 
consideration of the public, is the territorial ques 
tion. It is said that South Carolina has been re 
fused her rights in the Union, with reference to that* 
territorial question, and therefore she is going out 


of the Union to obtain that which she cannot get 
in it. 

Now, Mr. President, when we come to examine 
this subject, how does the matter stand ? I showed 
yesterday, in reference to the protection of slave 
property in the Territories of this Confederacy, that 
South Carolina, in connection with the distinguished 
Senator from Oregon, had voted expressly that no 
slavery code was needed ; that no further protec 
tion was needed, so far as Congress was concerned. 
They decided it here in this body. South Carolina, 
by her own vote, on the 25th day of May last, de 
cided that she needed no further protection in the 
Territories of the United States, so far as Congress 
was concerned. The Senator from Oregon voted 
with her. That vote seemed to be connected with 
and predicated upon the great fact that the Supreme 
Court of the United States had decided this ques 
tion ; that they had declared the Missouri Com 
promise in other words, the law excluding slavery 
north of 36 30 , and making it permissive south of 
36 30 unconstitutional and void; and, accord 
ing to our forms of Government, it was in fact 
stricken from the statute-book by the decision of 
the court.. They thereby said to the country, the 
supreme arbiter of the land, so made by the Consti 
tution of the United States, has decided that the 
people have a right, without regard to the charactei 
or description of their property, to carry it into all 
the Territories of the United States, and that under 



the Constitution of the United States it is protected 
there. It was said, the court having decided that 
they had a right to go there with this institution of 
slavery, and the Constitution finding it there, it was 
recognized and protected by the Constitution of the 
United States. 

In this connection, permit me to go outside of the 
Senate Chamber, and state what occurred in my 
own State. There, those who were the best friends 
of the distinguished Senator from Oregon, and who 
are ultra upon this subject, before thousands of the 
people of that State took the bold ground that they 
wanted no further protection from Congress ; that 
the Constitution of the United States and the opin 
ion of the Supreme Court were all the slavery code 
they desired ; that the question was settled ; that the 
power was complete ; and that protection was ample. 

In this connection, sir, we must recollect the de 
cision made by the Senate upon the resolutions intro 
duced by the Senator from Mississippi l on the 25th 
day of May last. On that day, under the solemn 
sanction of an oath, and all the formalities of legis 
lation spread upon the journals, the yeas and nays 
being taken, we declared, after an argument on 
the subject, that no further protection was needed 
at that time. The Senate went on and stated, in 
the fifth resolution I give the substance, I do 
not pretend to repeat .the words that if here 
after it should become necessary to have protection 

i Mr. Davis. 


of this kind, then Congress should give it ; but 
they said it was unnecessary at that time. If South 
Carolina and the Senator from Oregon took tin s 


position then, what has transpired since that period 
of time that now justifies a State in withdrawing 
or seceding from this Union, on account of Congress 
not doing that which they declared was not neces 
sary to be done ? 

But let us take the fact as it is. South Carolina, 
it is said, wanted protection in the Territories. I 
have shown that she said, herself, that further pro 
tection was not needed ; but if it should be needed, 
then Congress should give it. But South Carolina, 
the Kingdom of South Carolina, in the plen- 
titude of her power, and upon her own volition, 
without consultation with the other States of this 
Confederacy, has gone out of the Union, or assumed 
to go out. The next inquiry is : What does South 
Carolina now get, in the language of the distin 
guished Senator from Oregon, out of the Union that 
she did not get in the Union ? Is there a man in 


South Carolina to-day that wants to carry a single 
slave into any Territory we have got in the United 
States that is now unoccupied by slave property ? 
I am almost ready to hazard the assertion that 
there is not one. If he had not the power and the 
right to carry his slave property into a Territory 
while in the Union, has he obtained that right now 
by going out of the Union ? Has anything been 
obtained by violating the Constitution of the United 


States, by withdrawing from the sisterhood of States, 
that could not have been obtained in it ? Can South 
Carolina now any more conveniently and practi 
cally carry slavery into the Territories than she 
could before she went out of the Union ? Then 
what has she obtained ? What has she got, even 
upon the doctrine laid down by the distinguished 
Senator from Oregon ? 

But it is argued, striding over the Constitution 
and violating that comity and faith which should 
exist amongst the States composing this Confed 
eracy, that she had a right to secede ; she had a 
right to carry slaves into the Territories ; and there 
fore she will secede and go out of the Union. This 
reasoning on the part of South Carolina is about as 
sound as that of the madman, who assumed that he 
had dominion over the beasts of the forest, and 
therefore that he had a right to shear a wolf. His 
friends remonstrated with him, and, admitting his 
right to do so, inquired of him if he had considered 
the danger and the difficulty of the attempt. " No," 
said the madman, " I have not considered that ; 
that is no part of my consideration ; man has the 
dominion over the beasts of the forest, and there 
fore he has a right to shear a wolf; and as I have 
a right to do, so I will exercise it." His friends still 
remonstrated and expostulated, and asked him, not 
only, u Have you considered the danger, the diffi 
culty, and the consequences resulting from such an 
attempt ; but, what will the shearing be worth ?" 


" But," he replied, " I have the right, and there 
fore I will shear a wolf." South Carolina has the 
right, according to the doctrine of the seceders and 
disunionists of this country, to go out of the Union, 
and therefore she will go out of the Union. 

And what, Mr. President, has South Carolina 
gained by gi n g out ? It has been just about as 
profitable an operation as the shearing of the wolf 
by the madman. Can she now carry slaves into the 
Territories ? Does she even get any division of the 
Territories ? None ; she has lost all that. Does 
she establish a right ? No ; but by the exercise of 
this abstract right, as contended for by secessionists, 
what has she got? Oppression, taxation, a reign 
of terror over her people, as the result of their 
rashness in the exercise of this assumed right. In 
what condition is her people now ? They have gone 
out of the Union to obtain their rights, to main 
tain their liberty, to get that out of the Union 
which they could not get in it ! While they were 
in the Union, they were not taxed a million and 
some six or seven or eight hundred thousand dollars, 
in addition to their usual expenditures, to sustain 
standing armies and to meet other expenditures 
which are incurred by separation. But still she 
has the right to tax her people ; she has the right 
to institute a reign of terror ; she has the right 
to exclude her people from the ballot-box ; and 
she has exercised the right, and these are the con 
sequences. She has got her rights ! She has gone 



out of tli 3 Union to be relieved from taxes, and 
has increased the burdens upon her people four 
fold. All this is in the exercise of her right ! 

Mr. President, when we examine this subject, 
and follow it step by step, to see what is gained by 
this movement, human reason deplores the folly 
which it exhibits. The public mind seems to have 
been inflamed to madness, and in its delirium it 
overbears all restraint. To some it appears that 
our admirable system of civil liberty is crumbling 
to pieces ; that the temple of Liberty is upheaved ; 
that its columns are falling, and that nothing will 
remain but a general ruin ; and in their consterna 
tion too many stand back appalled, and take no 
position for the relief of their country in the pend 
ing crisis. But, sir, the relation that we bear to the 
people of the United States requires every man, 
whether Senator or Representative, or even private 
citizen, to come forward as a patriot and lover of his 
country, and look at the condition of the country as 
it is. Without regard to the consequences upon 
myself, I have determined to meet this question, 
and to present my views to the country in such form 
as I believe to be right and proper. 

Sir, let us look at the contest through which we 
are passing, and consider what South Carolina, 
and the other States who have undertaken to secede 
from the Confederacy, have gained. What is the 
great difficulty which has existed in the public mind? 
"We know that, practically, the territorial question 


is settled. Then what is the cause for breaking up 
this great Union of States ? Has the Union or the 
Constitution encroached upon the rights of South 
Carolina or any other State? Has this glorious 
Union, that was inaugurated by the adoption of the 
Constitution, which was framed by the patriots and 
sages of the Revolution, harmed South Carolina or 
any other State ? No ; it has offended none ; it has 
protected all. What is the difficulty ? We have 
some bad men in the South, the truth I will 
speak, and we have some bad men in the North, 
who want to dissolve this Union in order to gratify 
their unhallowed ambition. And what do we find 
here upon this floor and upon the floor of the other 
House of Congress ? Words of crimination and re 
crimination are heard. Bad men North say provok- 
ino- tliincrs in reference to the institutions of the 

o o 

South, and bad men and bad-tempered men of the 
South say provoking and insulting things in return ; 
and so goes on a war of crimination and recrimina 
tion in reference to the two sections of the country, 
and the institutions peculiar to each. They become 
enraged and insulted, and then they are denunci 
atory of each other ; and what is the result ? The 
Abolitionists, and those who entertain their senti 
ments, abuse men of the South, and men of the 
South abuse them in return. They do not fight 
each other ; but they both become offended and en 
raged. One is dissatisfied with the other ; one is 
insulted by the other ; and then, to seek revenge, 


to gratify themselves, they both agree to make war 
upon the Union that never offended or injured 
either. Is this right? What has this Union done ? 
Why should these contending parties make war 
upon it because they have insulted and aggrieved 
each other ? This glorious Union, that was spoken 
into existence by the fathers of the country, must be 
made war upon to gratify these animosities. Shall 
we, because we have said bitter things of each other 
which have been offensive, turn upon the Govern 
ment, and seek its destruction, and entail all the 
disastrous consequences upon commerce, upon agri 
culture, upon the industrial pursuits of the country, 
that must result from the breaking up of a great 
Government like this ? What is to be gained out 
of the Union that we cannot get in it? Any 
thing? I have been zealously contending for 
and intend to continue to contend for every right, 
even to the ninth part of a hair, that I feel the 
State which I have the honor in part to represent is 
entitled to. I do not intend to demand anything 
but that which is right ; and I will remark, in this 
connection, that there is a spirit in the country 
which, if it does not exist to a very great extent in 
this Hall, does exist in the great mass of the people 
North and South, to do what is right ; and if the 
question could be taken away from politicians ; if 
it could be taken away from the Congress of the 
United States, and referred to the great mass of the 
intelligent voting population of the United States, 


they would settle it without the slightest difficulty, 
and bid defiance to secessionists and disunionists. 
[Applause in the galleries.] 

The VICE-PRESIDENT. There must be many 
persons in the galleries who have been warned again 
and again that order must be maintained. I hope 
not to have occasion to refer to the subject again. 

Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I have an abiding 
confidence in the people ; and if it were so arranged 
to-day that the great mass of the American people 
could be assembled in an amphitheatre capacious 
enough to contain them all, and the propositions 
which have been presented here to preserve this 
Union, could be reduced to a tangible shape, and 
submitted to them, politicians being left out of view, 
the question being submitted to the great mass of 
the people, it being their interest to do right, they 
being lovers of their country, having to pay all, 
having to produce all, having to provide all, there 
would be but one single response, " Do that which 
will give satisfaction, ample and complete, to the 
various and conflicting sections of this glorious Re 

But, sir, how are we situated? There are poli 
ticians here, and throughout the land, some of whom 
want to break up the Union, to promote their own 
personal aggrandizement ; some, on the other hand, 
desire the Union destroyed that slavery may be ex 
tinguished. Then let me appeal to every patriot in 
the land, in view T of this state of things, to come for- 


ward and take the Government out of the hands of 
the Goths and Vandals, wrest it from the Philistines, 
save the country, and hand it down to our children 
as it has been handed down to us. 

I have already asked what is to be gained by the 
breaking up of this Confederacy. An appeal is 
made to the border slaveholding States to unite in 
what is commonly styled the Gulf Confederacy. If 
there is to be a division of this Republic, I would 
rather see the line run anywhere than between the 
slaveholding and the non-slaveholding States, and 
the division made on account of a hostility, on the 
one hand, to the institution of slavery, and a prefer 
ence for it, on the other ; for ivhenever that line is 
drawn, it is the line of civil war ; it is the line at 
which the overthrow of slavery begins ; the line from 
which it commences to recede. Let me ask the 
border States, if that state of things should occur, 
who is to protect them in the enjoyment of their 
slave property ? Will South Carolina, that has 
gone madly out, protect them? Will Mississippi 
and Alabama and Louisiana, still further down to 
wards the Gulf? Will they come to our rescue, and 
protect us ? Shall we partake of their frenzy, 
adopt the mistaken policy into which they have 
fallen, and begin the work of the destruction of the 
institution in which we are equally interested with 
them ? I have already said that I believe the disso 
lution of this Union will be the commencement of 
the overthrow and destruction of the institution of 


slavery. In a Northern confederacy, or in a South 
ern confederacy, or in a Middle confederacy, the 
border slaveholdino; States will have to take care 


of that particular species of property by their own 
strength, and by whatever influence they may exert 
in the organization in which they may be placed. 
The Gulf States cannot, they will not, protect 
us. We shall have to protect ourselves, and per 
chance to protect them. As I remarked yester 
day, my own opinion is, that the great desire to 
embrace the border States, as they are called, in 
this particular and exclusive Southern confederacy, 
which it is proposed to get up, is not that they 
want us there out of pure good-will, but they want 
us there as a matter of interest ; so that if they 
are involved in war, in making acquisitions of ter 
ritory still further south, or war growing out of 
any other cause, they may have a corps de reserve, 
they may have a power behind, that can furnish 
them men and money, men that have the hearts 
and the souls to fight and meet an enemy, come from 
what quarter he may. 

What have we to gain by that ? The fact that 
two taken from four leaves but two remaining, is 
not clearer to my mind than it is that the dissolution 
of the Union is the beginning of the destruction of 
slavery ; and that if a division be accomplished, as 
some desire, directly between the slaveholding and 
the non-slaveholding States, the work will be com 
menced most effectually. Upon this point I pro- 


pose to read a short extract from South Carolina 
herself. Mr. Boyee, late a member of the other 
House, a distinguished man, a man of talent, and I 
believe a good man, and who, I have no doubt, in 
his heart this day regrets most deeply and sincerely 
the course which South Carolina has taken, said, in 
1851, when the same issue was presented, - 

" Secession, separate nationality, with all its burdens, is no 
remedy. It is no redress for the past ; it is no security for the 
future. It is only a magnificent sacrifice to the present, with 
out in any wise gaining in the future." 

" For the various reasons I have stated, I object in as strong 
terms as I can, to the secession of South Carolina. Such is 
the intensity of my conviction on this subject, that if secession 
should take place of which I have no idea, for I cannot 
believe in the existence of such a stupendous madness I 
shall consider the institution of slavery as doomed, and that 
the great God, in our blindness, has made us the instruments 
of its destruction." 

He said then, that if South Carolina, in her mad 
ness, (but he did not believe she could,) should de 
termine upon secession, he would look upon it that 
the great God had doomed the institution of slavery. 
This is the opinion of one of the most distinguished 
and, I conscientiously believe, best men of South 

But, sir, I pass on from the paragraph of the 
speech of the honorable Senator from Oregon to 
which I have referred ; and as there seems to have 
been a sort of arrangement at least it appears so 
to my mind to make and keep up an attack on 


me, because I agreed with Mr. Boyce of South 
Carolina in this respect; because I agreed with 
many distinguished men ; and because I advanced 
the doctrines of the fathers who formed the Re 
public, I shall take up these Senators in the order 
in which I was attacked. Without being ego 
tistical, without being vain, when I feel that I 
have got truth on my side, when I feel that I am 
standing on principle, when I know that I have got 
facts and arguments that cannot be answered, I 
never inquire as to the difference of ability or ex 
perience between myself and those with whom I 
have to contend. 


The next Senator in order that made an at 
tack upon me on account of my previous speech 
was the distinguished Senator from Mississippi, 1 who 
took occasion to do so in making his valedictory 
address to the Senate after his State had passed 
her ordinance of secession. It has been the case 
not only with that Senator, but with others, that 
an attempt has been made by innuendo, by indirec 
tion, by some side remark, to convey the impres 
sion that a certain man has a tendency or bear 
ing towards Black Republicanism or Abolitionism. 
Sometimes gentlemen who cannot establish such a 
charge, are yet willing to make it, not directly, but 

1 Mr. Davis. 


by innuendo, to create a false impression on the 
public mind, 

" Willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike." 

If the charge can be successfully made, why not 
make it directly, instead of conveying it by in 
nuendo? The Senator from Mississippi did not at 
tempt to reply to my speech, did not answer my 
arguments, did not meet my authorities, did not 
controvert my facts ; but after reaching a certain 
point in his own argument, he disposes of all that I 
had said in these very few words, 

" I am here confronted with a question which I will not 
argue. The position which I have taken necessarily brings 
me to its consideration. Without arguing it, I will merely 
mention it. It is the right of a State to withdraw from the 
Union. The President says it is not a constitutional right. 
The Senator from Ohio, 1 and his ally, the Senator from Ten 
nessee, argued it as no right at all." 

Is that the way for a Senator, a distinguished 
Senator, an Ajax of his peculiar sect, for when 
we come to examine this doctrine of secession, 
it is only broad enough to found a sect upon ; it 
is not comprehensive enough, it has not scope 
enough, on which to found a great national party, 
to notice the arguments of others ? The Senator 
from Mississippi would not argue the right of seces 
sion. I say, that if any government be organized 
hereafter, in which this principle of secession is 
recognized, it will result in its destruction and 

i Mr. Wade. 


overthrow. But the Senator says that the Sen 
ator from Ohio, 1 and " his ally from Tennessee," 
regard secession as no right at all ; and by 
that statement the whole argument is answered. 
What is the idea here ? Let us talk plainly, 
though courteously and respectfully. What was 
the idea which this remark was calculated, if not 
intended, to convey ? I am free to say, that I 
think it was intended, as well as calculated, to 
convey the impression that the Senator from Ten 
nessee was an ally of Mr. Wade of Ohio, who 
was a Republican; and the whole speech of the 
Senator from Tennessee, the authorities, the facts, 
and the arguments, are all upturned by that single 
allusion. Thank God, there is too much good 
sense and intelligence in this country, to put down 
any man by an innuendo or side remark like that. 
But, sir, so far as the people whom I have the 
honor in part to represent are concerned, I stand 
above innuendoes of that kind. They have known 
me from my boyhood up. They understand my 
doctrines and my principles, in private and in 
public life. They have tried me in every position 
in which it was in their power to place a public ser 
vant, and they, to-day, will not say that Andrew 
Johnson ever deceived or betrayed them. In a 
public life of twenty-five years, they have never 
deserted or betrayed me ; and, God willing, I will 
never desert or betray them. The great mass of 

1 Mr. Wade. 


the people of Tennessee know that I am for them ; 
they know that I have advocated those great prin 
ciples and doctrines upon which the perpetuity of 
this Government depends ; they know that I have 
perilled my all, pecuniarily and physically, in vin 
dication of their rights and their interests. Little 
innuendoes, thrown off in snarling moods, fall 
harmless at my feet. 

It was said that I was the ally of the Senator 
from Ohio. I turn to the doings of the committee 
of thirteen to show who were allies there. I do 
not inquire what a man s antecedents have been 
when there is a great struggle to preserve the ex 
istence of the Government ; but rny first inquiry 
is, are you for preserving this Government? are 
you for maintaining the Constitution upon which 
it rests ? If Senator Wade, or Senator anybody 
else, is willing to come up to this great work, 
either by amending the Constitution of the United 
States, or passing laws that will preserve and per 
petuate this great Union, I am his ally and he is 
mine ; and I say to every Senator, to every mem 
ber of the House of Representatives, to every 
man that loves his country throughout the length 
and breadth of this great Confederacy, if you are 
for preserving this Union on its great and funda 
mental principles, I am your ally, without refer 
ence to your antecedents, or to what may take 
place hereafter. I say to all such men, come for 
ward, and, like gallant knights, let us lock our 


shields and make common cause for this glorious 
people. If I were to indulge in a similar kind of 
innuendo, by way of repartee, where would the 
Senator from Mississippi find himself ? In the 
committee of thirteen, a resolution was introduced 
by the distinguished Senator from New York 1 
who, I must say, since this question has sprung 
up, has given every indication of a desire for recon 
ciliation and for compromise, and of a disposition 
to preserve the Government, that a man occupy 
ing his position could do to this effect : 

" Resoli-cd, That the following article be, and the same is 
hereby, proposed and submitted as an amendment to the Con 
stitution of the United States, to be valid, to all intents and 
purposes, as a part of said Constitution, when ratified by the 
Legislatures of three fourths of the States : 

"1. No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which 
will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish, or 
interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions 
thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by 
the laws of said State." 

That was a proposition which was calculated, 
to a very great extent, to allay the apprehensions 
and the fears that have been entertained in the 
South in reference to the institution of slavery. 
Why do I say so? We know what the argument 
has been before the Southern mind. It has been : 
first, that the Northern anti-slavery party wanted 
to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, as 
an entering wedge ; next, to exclude it from the 

1 Mr. Seward. 


Territories, following up the attack upon slavery ; 
but these points were looked upon as of minor 
importance ; they were looked upon as outposts, 
as the prelude to an interference with the institu 
tion within the States, which has been supposed 
to be the great end and the great consideration. 
Do you not know this to be the argument : that 
they were merely taking these positions as enter 
ing wedges to an interference with the institution 
of slavery in the States ? Such is the real ques 
tion, and such it will remain, the Territorial ques 
tion being substantially settled. What does Mr. 
SEWARD, who has acquired so much notoriety by 
his u irrepressible conflict," say ? He comes here 
and proposes an amendment to the Constitution, 
which puts an estoppel upon his " irrepressible 
conflict " doctrine. He is willing to make it per 
petual, so that the institution cannot be interfered 
with in the States by any future amendment of 
the Constitution. That is Mr. Seward s measure. 
Upon the adoption of that resolution, I believe 
every member of the committee voted for it, save 
two. The Senator from Mississippi l voted for it ; 
Mr. Seward voted for it; and Mr. Wade of 
Ohio voted for it. Whose ally is he ? Here we 
find Wade and Seward and Davis, and the whole 
committee, with the exception of two, in favor of 
amending the Constitution so that the institution 
of slavery cannot be interfered with in the States, 
i Mr. Davis. 


making that provision irrepealable by any number 
of States that may come into the Confederacy. 
Who were "allies" then? 

But, Mr. President, recurring to what I said 
yesterday, there are two parties in this country 
that want to break up the Government. Who 
are they ? The nullifiers proper of the South, the 
secessionists, or disunionists for I use them all 
as synonymous terms. There is a portion of them 
who, per se, desire the disruption of the Govern 
ment for purposes of their own aggrandizement. 
I do not charge upon them that they want to 
break up the Government for the purpose of affect 
ing slavery ; yet I charge that the breaking up of 
the Government would have that effect ; the result 
would be the same. Who else is for breaking up 
this Government? I refer to some bad men in 
the North. There is a set of men there who are 
called Abolitionists, and they want to break up 
the Government. They are disunionists ; they are 
secessionists ; they are nullifiers. Sir, the Abo 
litionists and the distinguished Senator from Mis 
sissippi and his party both stand in the same atti 
tude, to attain the same end, a dissolution of this 
Union ; the one party believing that it will result 
in their own aggrandizement South, and the other 
believing that it will result in the overthrow of the 


institution of slavery. Who are the disunionists 
of the North ? Who are the " allies " of the dis 
tinguished Senator from Mississippi? We find 


that a resolution was adopted at the anniversary 
of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, con 
vened in Boston, in these words : 

" Resolved, That the one great issue before the country is 
the dissolution of the Union, in comparison with which all 
other issues with the slave power are as dust in the balance ; 
therefore we give ourselves to the work of annulling this 
covenant with death, as essential to our own innocency, and 
the speedy and everlasting overthrow of the slave system." 

This resolution was passed by the Abolition 
anti-slavery society of Massachusetts. They think 
a dissolution of the Union would result in the de 
struction of slavery, and absolve them from this 
" covenant with death," and attest their innocency, 
as far as the Government is concerned. On that, 
we find that Mr. Wendell Phillips made the follow 
ing remarks : 

" I entirely accord with the sentiments of that last resolu 
tion. I think all we have to do is to prepare the public mind by 
the daily and hourly presentation of the doctrine of disunion. 
Events which, fortunately for us, the Government itself, and 
other parties, are producing with unexampled rapidity, are our 
best aid." 

Again : in reply to a remark made by Mr. Gid- 
dings, respecting the dissolution of the Union, the 
" Boston Liberator " says : 

" Mr. Giddings says truly, that the dissolution of the Union 
has long been held up as a scarecrow by the South : but 
when he adds that the friends of liberty never demanded it, 
his statement is untrue, unless he means to confine it to his 
political associates, who are but compromisers at last. We 


demand nothing short of a dissolution, absolute and immediate. 
The Union which was founded by our fathers was cemented by 
the blood of the slave, and effected through his immolation." 

And still further: William Lloyd Garrison, at 
a Fourth of July celebration, at Framingham, 
Massachusetts, declared : 

" Let us then to-day, rejecting as wild and chimerical all 
suggestions, propositions, and contrivances for restraining 
slavery in its present limits, while extending constitutional 
protection to it in fifteen of the States, register our pledge 
anew before Heaven and the world, that we will do what in 
us lies to effect the eternal overthrow of this blood-stained 
Union ; that thus our enslaved countrymen may find a sure 
deliverance, and we may no longer be answerable for their 

The Union is to be overthrown by way of get 
ting clear of the "great sin of slavery." Mr- 
J. B. Swasey, on the same occasion, said : 

" In the olden times I was what was called an anti-slavery 
Whig ; but, Mr. President, it has come to my mind, like a con 
viction, that it is utterlv in vain to hope that we can live under 
such a Government as this, with our professions, and with our 
pretended love of freedom and right. Why, the thing is im 
possible. There cannot, in the nature of things, be any union 
between the principles of liberty and slavery. There never 
has been any union, except by the subjugation of the principles 
of liberty to those of despotism. For one, sir, I believe that 
the duty of every true man is to take the ground of secession." 

Again : Wendell Phillips, in a speech at Boston 
on the 20th of January, argued that disunion was 
desirable, because it would abolish slavery. He 


also argued that the North would gain by dis 
union, and used the following language : 

" Sacrifice everything for the Union ? God forbid ! Sac 
rifice everything to keep South Carolina in it ? Rather build 
a bridge of gold, and pay her toll over it. Let her march off 
with banners and trumpets, and we will speed the parting 
guests. Let her not stand upon the order of her going, but 
go at once. Give her the forts and arsenals and sub-treasuries, 
and lend her jewels of silver and gold, and Egypt will rejoice 
that she has departed." 

He looks upon disunion as the beginning of the 
destruction and overthrow of the institution of 
slavery. Then, when we come to talk about 
" allies," whose allies are these gentlemen ? Whose 
allies are the Abolitionists of the North, if they are 
not the allies of the secessionists and disunionists 
of the South ? Are they not all laboring and toil 
ing to accomplish the same great end, the over 
throw of this great nation of ours ? Their object 
is the same. They are both employing, to some 
extent, the same means. Here is Wendell Phil 
lips ; here is Garrison ; here is the anti-slavery 
society of Massachusetts ; and all, in the very 
same point of view, the allies of the distinguished 
Senator from Mississippi and his coadjutors ; all 
in favor of disrupting and breaking down this 
Union, with the view of destroying the institution 
of slavery itself. " Allies laboring to destroy the 
Government ! " Who else are laboring to destroy 
it but the disunionists and secessionists of the 


South, and Garrison and Phillips, and the long 
list that might be enumerated at the North ? Here 
they stand, presenting an unbroken front, to de 
stroy this glorious Union, which was made by our 

Mr. President, I have alluded to this subject of 
" allies " in order to show who is engaged in this 
unholy and nefarious work of breaking up this 
Union. We find first the run-mad Abolitionists 
of the North. They are secessionists ; they are 
for disunion ; they are for dissolution. When we 
turn to the South we see the red-hot disunionists 
and secessionists engaged in the same work. I 
think it comes with a very bad grace from them 
to talk about the "allies" of others who are try 
ing to save the Union and preserve the Constitu 

I went back yesterday and showed that South 
Carolina had held this doctrine of secession at a 
very early day, a very short time after she entered 
into the Articles of Confederation, and after she had 
entered the Union by which and through which 
the independence of the country was achieved. 
What else do we find at a very early day? Go 
to Massachusetts during the war of 1812, and 
the Hartford Convention, and there you will find 
men engaged in this treasonable and unhallowed^ 
work. Even in 1845, Massachusetts, in mani 
festing her great opposition to the annexation of 
Texas to the United States, passed a resolution 


resolving herself out of the Union. She seceded ; 
she went off by her own act, because Texas was 
admitted into the Union. Thus we find South 
Carolina and Massachusetts taking the lead in this 
secession movement. We find the Abolitionists 
proper of the North shaking the right hand of 
fellowship with the disunionists of the South in 
this work of breaking up the Union ; and yet we 
hear intimations here that Senators from the South 
who are not secessionists are Black Republican 
allies ! If I were compelled to choose either, I 
would not wish to be compelled to make a choice, 
but if I were compelled to be either, having the 
privilege of choosing, I would rather be a black 
Republican than a red one. I think the one is 
much more tolerable than the other. If red repub 
licanism is ever to make its way into this country, 
it is making its way in this disunion and secession 
movement that is now going on ; for we see that 
right along with the sentiment of secession the 
reign of terror prevails. Everything is carried 
away by it, while the conservative men of the 
country are waiting for the excited tempest to pass. 
It is now sweeping over the country. Everything 
is carried by usurpation, and a reign of terror fol 
lows along in its wake. 

I am charged with being " an ally " of the Sen 
ator from Ohio ! I, who, from my earliest infancy, 
or from the time I first comprehended principle, 
down to the present time, have always stood bat- 


tling for the same great principles that I contend 
for now ! My people know me ; they have tried 
me ; and your little innuendoes and your little in 
directions will not alarm them, even if your infu 
riated seceding Southern men dare to intimate that 


I am an ally of Mr. Wade. The Senator charges 
me with being " an ally " ; while he and the leaders 
of Abolitionism are uniting all their energies to 
break up this glorious Union. I an ally ! Thank 
God, I am not in alliance with Giddings, with 
Phillips, with Garrison, and the long list of those 
who are engaged in the work of destruction, and in 
violating the Constitution of the United States. 

So much, Mr. President, tn regard to the argu 
ment about allies. I am every man s ally when he 
acts upon principle. I have laid down, as the car 
dinal point in my political creed, that, in all ques 
tions that involve principle, especially where there 
was doubt, I would pursue principle ; and in the 
pursuit of a great principle I never could reach a 
wrong conclusion. If, in the pursuit of principle, 
in trying to reach a correct conclusion, I find my 
self by the side of another man who is pursuing the 
same principle, or acting upon the same line of 
policy, I extend to him my assistance, and I ask his 
in return. 

But the Senator from Mississippi, in his reply to 
me, also said : 

" I was reading, a short time ago, an extract which referred 
to the time when we I suppose it means Tennessee 


would take the position which it was said to be an absurdity 
for South Carolina to hold; and Tennessee still was put, in the 
same speech, in the attitude of a great objector against the 
exercise of the right of secession. Is there anything in her 
history which thus places her ? Tennessee, born of secession, 
rocked in the cradle of revolution, taking her position before 
she was matured, and claiming to be a State because she had 
violently severed her connection with North Carolina, and 
through an act of secession and revolution claimed then to be 
a State." 

I suppose it was thought that this would be a 
poser ; that it would be conclusive ; and as Ten 
nessee was " born of secession, rocked in the cradle 
of revolution," I was estopped ; that my lips were 
hermetically sealed, so far as related to anything I 
could give utterance to in opposition to this heresy. 
When we come to examine the history of that 
subject, we find the Senator has fallen into just as 
great an error as he did in his allusion to allies. 
Tennessee had her birth not in secession very far 
from it. The State of Frankland had its origin in 
that way. They attempted to separate themselves 
from the State of North Carolina. When was that ? 
In 1784. Peace was made in 1783 ; but in 1784, 
I read from Wheeler s " History of North Caro 

" In 1 784, the General Assembly, in April, at Hillsboro 
among other acts for the relief of the General Government, 
ceded her western lands, and authorized her delegation in 
Congress to execute a deed, provided Congress would accept 
this offer within two years. 

" This act, patriotic and self-sacrificing, was worthy of the 


State ; and although not then accepted by Congress, was the 
real source of the civil commotion which we are about to 

What was that civil commotion ? The pioneers 
of that country had suffered great hardships, and 
they viewed with suspicion this act of 1784. On 
the 24th of August of that year, they held a con 
vention at Jonesboro , and resolved to send a person 
to Congress to urge the acceptance of the offer of 
North Carolina. But I will read from this history : 

" The General Assembly of North Carolina met at Newbern 
on the 22d October, 1784, and repealed the act of the former 
session, in consequence of which the convention at Jonesboro 
broke up in confusion." 

" The spirit of the people was roused. On December 4, 
1784, a convention of five delegates from each county met at 
Jonesboro . John Sevier was made president of this conven 
tion. They formed a constitution for the State of Frankland, 
which was to be rejected or received by another body, fresh 
from the people, to meet at Greenville in November, 1785. 
This body met at the time and place appointed ; the constitu 
tion was ratified ; Langdon Carter was Speaker of the Senate ; 
William Cage, Speaker of the House of Commons. John 
Sevier was chosen Governor ; David Campbell, Joshua Gist, 
and John Henderson, judges of the superior court. Other 
officers, civil and military, were appointed. 

" The General Assembly of the State of Frankland, by a 
communication signed by both Speakers, informed Richard 
Caswell, Esq., Governor of North Carolina, that the people of 
the counties of Washington, Sullivan, and Greene, had de 
clared themselves sovereign, and independent of the State of 
North Carolina. 

" Governor Caswell was a soldier and a statesman. He was 


not of a temper to brook such high-handed measures. Ho 
issued, on the 25th of April, 1785, his proclamation against this 
lawless thirst for power." 

" But the State of Frankland did not heed this warning, so 
properly expressed, and so dignified in its character and tone. 
It proceeded to erect new counties, levy taxes, appropriate 
money, form treaties with the Indians, and exercise all the 
power and prerogatives of a sovereign State." 

" The scarcity of money was severely felt. The salary of 
the Governor was 200 annually ; a judge 150 ; the treasurer 
40 ; to be paid from the treasury. The taxes were to be 
paid into the treasury, in the circulating medium of Frank- 
land, such as they had, namely : good flax linen, ten hundred, 
at three shillings and six pence per yard ; good clean beaver 
skins, six shillings each; racoon and fox skins, at one shilling 
and three pence ; deer skins, six shillings ; bacon, at six pence 
per pound ; tallow, at six pence ; good whiskey, at two shillings 
and six pence a gallon. 

" This has given rise to some humor at the expense of the 
State of Frankland. It was referred to in debate in our 
House of Commons, 1827, by H. C. Jones, and in Congress 
some years ago by Hon. Daniel Webster ; which was replied to 
by Hon. Hugh L. White. It was pleasantly stated that the 
salaries of the Governor and judges were paid in fox-skins, 
and the fees of the sheriff and constables in mink-skins, and 
that the Governor, the sheriffs, and constables were compelled 
to receive the skins at the established price. 

" Even this primitive currency was, by the ingenuity of 
man, extensively counterfeited, by sewing racoon-tails to the 
opossum-skins, opossum-skins being worthless and abundant, 
and racoon -skins were valued by law at one shilling and three 

" The General Assembly of North Carolina, assembled at 
Newborn, in November, 1785, passed an act to bury in oblivion 
the conduct of Frankland, provided they returned to their 
allegiance, and appointed elections to be held in the different 


counties for members to the General Assembly of North 
Carolina, and also appointed civil and military officers to 
support those already appointed. The next year, 1786, pre 
sented a strange state of affairs ; two empires extended at the 
same time over the same territory and over the same people. 

" Courts were held by botK Governments, military officers 
appointed by both, to exercise the same powers. John Tip- 
ton headed the party for North Carolina, and John Sevier the 
Frankland party." 

" The next year taxes were imposed by both administra 
tions ; but the people most innocently pretended that they did 
not know to whom to pay ; so paid to neither. Thus deprived 
of one of the chief means of government, the affairs of Frank- 
land were approaching to its end. Tipton and Sevier were 
both residents of Washington County. Sevier was a brave 
soldier ; he had proved his valor on King s Mountain ; but he 
was seduced by the allurements of office and ambition, 

The sin whereby the angels fell. 

" He applied to Dr. Franklin for advice and support ; to the 
Governor (Matthews) of Georgia, and to Virginia; from none 
did he receive any aid or advantage. He realized with fear 
ful truth the fable of Gay, 

The child who many fathers share, 
Hath rarely known a father s care. 
He who on many doth depend 
Will rarely ever find a friend. " 

All this shows, Mr. President, that the State of 
Frankland took its origin in 1784. A government 
was recognized, and it continued until September, 
1787. The Legislature that year met at Green 
ville, the very town in which I live. 

"In September, 1787, the Legislature of Frankland met 
for the last time at Greenville. John Menifee was Speaker 


of the Senate, and Charles Robinson Speaker of the House. 
They authorized the election of two Representatives to attend 
the Legislature of North Carolina, and one of the judges of 
Frankland was elected (David Campbell) and her Treasurer 
(Langdon Carter) the other. 

" Had the party of Sevier accepted the liberal, fair, and 
just proposition of Governor Caswell, in 1 785, as stated pre 
viously, how much pain and trouble would have been spared 
to this country, and how much personal suffering to himself ? 
With all his virtues, honesty, and former public service, he 
was at this time a doomed man. 

" On the return of the members from the General Assembly 
at Tarboro , in February, 1788, it was soon understood that 
Frankland was no more. 

" An execution against the estate of General Sevier had 
been placed in the hands of the sheriff, and levied on his 
negroes on Nolichucky River. These were removed for safe 
keeping to the house of Colonel Tipton. 

" Brave in his character, obstinate and headstrong, Sevier 
raised one hundred and fifty men, and marched to Tipton s 
house, on "Watauga River, eight miles east of Jonesboro . 
Tipton had information of Sevier s design only time enough to 
obtain the aid of some fifteen friends, who were with him on 
Sevier s arrival. 

" Sevier, with his troops and a small cannon, demanded an 
unconditional surrender of Tipton and all in his house. Tipton 
had barricaded the house ; and in reply to the unceremonious 
demand, sent him word to fire, and be d d. He then sent 
a written summons to surrender. This letter Tipton forwarded 
forthwith to the colonel of the county, for aid. This aid, 
through Robert and Thomas Love, was promptly afforded. 
The house was watched closely. A man by the name of Webb 
was killed, a woman wounded in the shoulder, and a Mr. Vann. 
While, from extreme cold, Sevier s guards were at the fire, a 
large reinforcement from Sullivan County, under Maxwell and 


Pemberton, passed the guard, and joined the beleaguered 
household. The moment the junction was formed they sallied 
out with shouts ; a tremor seized the troops of Sevier, who fled 
in all directions at the first fire of Tipton. Pugh, the high 
sheriff of Washington, was mortally wounded, and many taken 
prisoners. Sevier himself escaped ; his two sons, James and 
John, were prisoners." 

" Judge Spencer, one of the judges of the State of North 
Carolina, holding court at Jonesboro , issued a bench-warrant 
against Governor Sevier for high treason, (L788.) 

" In October, Colonels Tipton, Love, and others, appre 
hended Sevier, at the house of Mrs. Brown, near Jonesboro . 
Tipton was armed, and swore that he would kill Sevier ; and 
Sevier really thought he would do so. Tipton was, however, 
with much exertion, pacified. Handcuffs were placed upon 
Governor Sevier, and he was carried to Jonesboro. From 
thence he was carried, under strong guard, to Morganton, in 
Burke County, North Carolina, and delivered to William 
Morrison, the sheriff of Burke. 

" As he passed through Burke, General Charles McDowell 
and General Joseph McDowell (the latter who was with him 
in the battle of King s Mountain, and fought by his side) 
became his securities for a few days, until he could see some 
friends. He returned punctually, and upon his own respon 
sibility the sheriff allowed him time to procure bail. His two 
sons, with friends, came to Morganton privately, and under 
their escort he escaped. 

" Thus the career of the first and last Governor of Frank- 
land terminated. But with all his defects, John Sevier had 
many virtues. He was fearless to a fault, kind to his friends, 
and hospitable to all. This gave him great weight among the 
people ; and although in the General Assembly of North 
Carolina, (Fayetteville,) in 1788, general oblivion and pardon 
were extended to all concerned in the late revolt, John Sevier 
was especially excepted in the act, and debarred from all 
offices of trust, honor, or profit. 


" The next year (1789) so great a favorite with the people 
was Sevier, that he was elected from Greene, to represent 
that county in the Senate of the General Assembly of North 
Carolina. He appeared at Fayetteville at the time appointed 
for the meeting of the Legislature, (second Monday of No 

" Such was the sense of his worth, or his contrition for the 
past, that the Legislature passed early an act repealing the 
section disqualifying him from any office ; and on taking the 
oath of allegiance, he was allowed his seat. Thus were the 
difficulties settled. 

" North Carolina had ever been willing to allow her daughter 
to set up for herself when of lawful age and under proper 
restrictions. Cherishing this feeling, she was never unjust 
towards her fair and lovely offspring. 

" On the 25th of February, 1790, as authorized by a pre 
vious act of the General Assembly, passed in the year 1789, 
Samuel Johnston and Benjamin Hawkins, Senators in Con 
gress, executed a deed to the United States in the words of 
the cession act ; and on the 2d of April of that year, Congress 
accepted the deed, and Tennessee was born. 

"By proclamation, dated September 1, 1790, Governor 
Martin announced that the Secretary of State for the United 
States had transmitted to him a copy of the act of Congress, 
accepting the cession of North Carolina for this district of the 
western territory, and the inhabitants of said district would 
take due notice thereof, and govern themselves accordingly. " 

John Sevier was brave and patriotic, a man loved 
by the people ; but he had fallen into this error of 
secession or separation from the State of North 
Carolina that I have called your attention to here in 
the history of that State. We find that this doctrine 
of secession could not even be sustained by him, 
with his great popularity and with the attachment 


the people had for him. Instead of Tennessee 
having her origin or her birth in secession, the pre 
cise reverse is true. The State of Frankland had 
its birth in an attempt at disunion and was rocked 
to death in the cradle of secession ; and its great 
defender and founder at that time, notwithstanding 
his great popularity and the attachment the people 
had for him, was lodged in irons. That is where 
secession carried him, with all his popularity, with 
all his patriotism, with all the attachment the people 
had for him. Yes, sir, this nefarious, this blighting, 
this withering doctrine of secession ended by placing 
that distinguished man in irons. 

What next occurred ? North Carolina passed a 
law for general pardon and oblivion for all those 
that had been engaged in this movement, with the 
exception of this great man, John Sevier. His 
name is even now venerated in the section of the 
country where I live ; but, with all his talents and 
popularity, this infamous, this diabolical, this hell- 
born and hell-bound doctrine of secession carried 
him into chains. The State of Frankland had ex 
pired, rocked to death in the cradle of secession, and 
he went back to Greene County, and was elected a 
member of the Legislature of North Carolina. In 
passing . this general oblivion and pardon, he was 
made an exception ; and he was not permitted to 
take his seat in the Legislature until the exception 
was removed. It was removed, and he took his seat 
in the Legislature of North Carolina. Frankland 


had expired ; it was no more ; and yet we see the 
odious weight that was heaped upon him by this 
nefarious doctrine of secession. 

Then what follows, Mr. President ? When we 
turn to the history, we find that North Carolina 
then made her cession act, completed it in 1790, 
and ceded the territory to the United States. A 
territorial government was established. General 


Washington himself appointed the first officers in 
the Territory, which was then styled " the Territory 
southwest of the river Ohio." In 1794 the Council 
or Legislature of that Territory elected James White 
the first delegate to the Congress of the United 
States from the Territory southwest of the river 
Ohio not Frankland or Franklin, for that is 
numbered with the things that were, but are not. 
Even with the popularity of the name of Dr. Frank 
lin, it was consigned to oblivion. In 1794 the 
delegate to represent the Territory made his ap 
pearance here, and took his seat. In 1796 the 
constitution was formed ; and then it was that 
Tennessee began her existence. The peace was 
made in 1783, and in 1796 Tennessee formed her 
constitution and applied for admission into this 
Union. Then it was that Tennessee was brought 
into existence. She did not pass through this ordeal 
of secession; this probation of disunion. She germi 
nated upon proper principles. The Territory was 
first organized bv Congress after the death of the 

O . "> 

organization called Frankland ; and in 1796 the 


people of Tennessee formed their constitution, and 
were admitted into the Union as a State. 

And, sir, who came into the Union with her 
when she was admitted as a State ? Andrew Jack 
son. It may have been that his early knowledge of 
the country, it may have been that his early infor 
mation upon the subject, made him understand and 
appreciate ever afterwards the value of the Union. 
When Tennessee was ushered into this family of 
States, as an equal member of the Confederacy, 
General Jackson took his seat as her Representative. 
The Senator from Mississippi said that Tennessee 
was " born in secession ; rocked in the cradle of 
revolution." Sir, she has many fond recollections 
of the Revolution ; but with all her revolutionary 
character, her people have never attempted seces 
sion. General Jackson first represented her in Con 
gress when she came into the Union ; she brought 
him to the notice of the people of the United States 
as a public man. In 1833, when an attempt some 
what similar to the present was made, he w r as Pres 
ident of the United States ; and it is unnecessary 
for me to relate what his views of secession were 
then. It is not necessary for me to refer to the acts 
of General Jackson in 1833. And now, sir, not in 
tending to disparage others, but to give utterance to 
my conscientious belief, I must say that if such a 
man as Andrew Jackson were President of the 
United States at the present time, before this mo 
ment steps would have been taken which would 


have preserved us a united people without the 
shedding of blood, without making war. I believe 
that if Andrew Jackson were President of the 
United States, this glorious Union of ours would 
still be intact. Perhaps it might be jarred a little 
in some places, but not sufficiently to disturb the 
harmony and general concord of the whole. That 
is my opinion. I do not say it to disparage others ; 
but I believe that this would have been the case if 
he had been President, pursuing the policy which I 
feel certain he would have pursued in such an 

Tennessee came into the Union in 1796. She 
was the third State that entered the Confederacy 
after the old thirteen ratified the Constitution. She 
was in this Union before Alabama, before Mississippi, 
before Louisiana, before Florida had an existence. 
There was a Union then, and she was in it. She 
lias been in it ever since ; and she has continued to 
contribute her money, her men, and her blood, to 
the defence of the flag of the Union ; and though 
these other States may go out, I trust in God that 
she will still remain in the position she occupied 
before they were spoken into existence. We have 
been told that the Union is broken up that it is 
already dissolved. Why, sir, according to the Con 
stitution, nine States formed the Government ; and 
provision was made for taking in new States. 
Taking in a State or taking out a State does not 
disturb the Union. It was a Union before the 


State came in ; it is a Union after it goes out. We 
got along very well before these States came in ; and 
where is the great injury now to result to Tennessee 
because they propose to go out? 

I took occasion, in my former remarks, to call the 
attention of the Senate, and of my constituents to 
the extent that I have the honor to represent them, 
to the kind of government that was likely to be 
formed by the seceding States, and the country they 
might acquire after they did secede. In relation to 
this, the Senator from Mississippi said, 

" But the Senator found somewhere, I believe in Georgia, a 
newspaper article which suggested the advantages of a con 
stitutional monarchy. Does the Senator believe there is any 
considerable number of people in any of the States who favor 
the establishment of a constitutional monarchy ? " 

The Senator from Georgia 1 felt called upon to 
say something in the same connection. He said, 

" As allusion has been made by the Senator from Missis 
sippi to an article which appeared in a paper in my own town, 
and about which a good deal of noise has been made, and 
which was referred to by the Senator from Tennessee, in his 
celebrated speech, the other day, as evidence that there was a 
party in the South in favor of a constitutional monarchy " 

He went on to state that that idea was suggested 


in some paper, he could not exactly tell how ; but 
it was not by the editor, and it did not amount to 
much. I did not refer to a single paper ; but I made 
various extracts from newspapers and speeches, 
simply as surface indications, as symptoms of what 

1 Mr. Iverson. 


lay below, and what was intended to be the result. 
I referred to the " Charleston Mercury " ; I referred 
to other papers ; I referred to the speeches of distin 
guished men, some of them leaders in this move 
ment. Is it not apparent, now, that unless the 
public mind is aroused, unless the people are put on 
the alert, there is a design to establish a government 
upon the principles of a close corporation ? Can any 
one that has the least sagacity be so unobservant as 
not to see what is going on in the South ? It is 
apparent to all. They seem to unite in setting out 
with the proposition that the new confederacy shall 
exclude every State which is not slaveholding, for 
the reason that those States which are interested in 
slaves should have the exclusive control and manage 
ment of them. Here is a great family of States, 
some free and some slave, occupying, in one sense, 
the same relation to each other that individuals in 
the community do to one another. The proposition 
is started to form a government of States exclusively 
interested in slaves. That excludes all the free 
States. Is the argument good ? Has not slavery 
been secure heretofore in the Union with non-slave- 
holding States ; and will not our geographical and 
physical position be just the same after the present 
Union is dissolved ? Where does the argument 
carry us ? We must have a confederacy now com 
posed of slave States exclusively. When we have 
excluded the free States, and we come to make a 
new government, does not the same argument apply 


that we must have a government to be controlled 
and administered by that description of persons 
among us who are exclusively interested in slaves ? 
If yon cannot trust a free State in the confederacy, 
can you trust a non-slaveholder in a slaveholding 

J JT? 

State to control the question of slavery ? Where 
does your argument carry you ? We see where they 
are drifting ; and, as a faithful sentinel upon the 
watch-tower, I try to notify the people and sound 
the tocsin of alarm. If this idea be not carried out, 
it will be because the public feeling, the public 
opinion, is aroused against it. 

I alluded yesterday to the fact that the freemen 
of the State of South Carolina have not been per 
mitted to vote for a President since it was a State. 
There is a great terror and dread of the capacity of 
the people to govern themselves. In South Carolina, 
when the ordinance was passed to withdraw from the 
Union, did the convention trust the people to pass 
their judgment upon it. Were they consulted ? 
Did they indorse it ? Have they passed their judg 
ment upon it to this day ? Taking the language of 
Mr. Boyce as an index of their feeling, I have no 
more doubt than I have of my existence that if this 
reign of terror subsides, and the hearts of the people 
of South Carolina can be gotten at, it will be found 
that a majority of them disapprove and repudiate 
what has been done there. What do we find in the 
State of Georgia ? There the proposition was 
moved to submit the ordinance to the people ; and 


were the people consulted ? The vote was 138 to 
116, I think. It shows a great division. Did they 
submit it to the people? Oh no. I know some 
thing of the people of the State of Georgia ; and I 
believe this day, if that seceding ordinance could be 
submitted to the voting population of Georgia, and 
the question be fully canvassed and fairly under 
stood, they would repudiate and put it down. Go 
to Florida : were the people consulted there ? Not 
at all. Look to Alabama ; look to the arguments 
made there in the convention. It was said, our 
power is ample ; we must consummate this thing, 
and not let the people pass upon it. Louisiana re 
fused to refer the matter to the people. The people 
have not been consulted. A reign of terror has 
been instituted. States have been called upon to 
make large appropriations of money to buy arms and 
munitions of war ; for what end ? The idea has 
been : " we can, almost with the speed of lightning, 
run States out of the Union without consulting the 
people ; and then, if they dare resist, we have got 
an army, we have got the money to awe them into 
submission." These gentlemen are very fearful of 
coercion, exceedingly alarmed at the word " coerce "; 
but when you attempt to interpose and stop their 
career, they do not know of any other term but coer 
cion. Look at the despatch which Governor Pickens 
sent to Mississippi : 

CHARLESTON, January, 19, 1861. 

Judge Magrath and myself have sent four telegraphs to 
you. Please urge Mississippi to send delegates to the Mont- 


gomery meeting of States, at as early a day as possible say 
4th of February to form immediately a strong provisional 
government. It is the only thing to prevent war, and let that 
convention elect immediately a commander-in-chief for the 
seceding States. You may as well return, at least as far as 
Montgomery. F. W. PICKENS. 


South Carolina lias a military establishment, with 
officers appointed, and the taxes necessary to support 
them now are grinding her people to the dust ; but 
she expects in a very short time to transfer that 
military establishment, with her officers, to the 
Southern Confederacy that is to be established ; and 
I suppose the great object in getting the leader ap 
pointed at once is that they may be able by military 
force to awe the people into submission. Have we 
not seen that nine regiments have been authorized 
to be raised in Mississippi, and a distinguished 
Senator, who occupied a seat on this floor a short 
time since, made the major-general ? No doubt, 
when the scheme is consummated and carried out, 
when the military organization is complete, if the 
people offer to resist, they will be subdued and awed, 
or driven into submission at the point of the bayonet. 
Some of these gentry are very much afraid of the 

Why, sir, a proposition was even started in my 
own State to raise sixteen regiments ; for what ? 
With whom are we at war ? Is anybody attack 
ing us ? No. Do we want to coerce anybody ? 
No. What do we want with sixteen regiments ? 



And it was proposed to appropriate $250,000 to 
sustain them. There is a wonderful alarm at the 
idea of coercing the seceding States ; great dread 
in reference to the power of this Federal Govern 
ment to secure obedience to its laws, and espe 
cially in reference to making war upon one of the 
States ; but the public property can be taken, your 
flag can be fired upon, your ships driven out of 
port, your gallant officer, with a few men, penned 
up in a little fort to subsist as best they may. So 
far as the officer to whom I have just alluded is 
concerned, I will give utterance to the feelings of 
my heart when I express my profound approba 
tion of his conduct. He was put there to defend 
the flag of his country. He was there not as an 
intruder. He was there in possession of the prop 
erty owned by the United States, not to menace, 
not to insult, not to violate rights, but simply to 
defend the flag and honor of his country, and take 
care of the public property ; and because he re 
tired from a position where he could have been 
captured, where the American flag could have been 
struck and made to trail in the dust, And the Pal 
metto banner substituted, because he, obeying the 
impulses of a gallant and brave heart, took choice 
of another position ; acting upon principles of hu 
manity, not injuring others, but seeking to protect 
his own command from beino; sacrificed and de- 


stroyed, he is condemned and repudiated, and his 
action is sought to be converted into a menace of 


war. Has it come to this, that the Government 
of the United States cannot even take care of its 
own property, that your vessels must be fired 
upon, that your flag must be struck, and still you 
are alarmed at coercion ; and because a gallant offi 
cer has taken possession of a fort where he cannot 
very well be coerced, a terrible cry is raised, and 
war is to be made ? 

I was speaking of the proposition brought for 
ward in my own State to raise sixteen regiments. 
Sir, as far back as the battle of King s Mountain, 
and in every war in which the rights of the people 
have been invaded, Tennessee, God bless her, has 
stood by that glorious flag, which was carried by 
Washington and followed by the gallant patriots 
and soldiers of the Revolution, even as the blood 
trickled from their feet as they passed over the ice 
and snow ; and under that flag, not only at home, 
but abroad, her sons have acquired honor and dis 
tinction, in connection with citizens of the other 
States of the Union. She is not yet prepared to 
band with outlaws, and make war upon that flag 
under which she has won laurels. Who are we 
going to fight ? Who is invading Tennessee ? 
Conventions are got up ; a reign of terror is in 
augurated ; and if, by the influence of a subsidized 
and mendacious press, an ordinance taking the 
State out of the Confederacy can be extorted, those 
who make such propositions expect to have our 
army ready, to have their bands equipped, to have 


their pretorian divisions ; then they will tell the 
people that they must carry the ordinance into 
effect, and join a Southern Confederacy, whether 
they will or not ; they shall be lashed on to the car 
of South Carolina, who entertains no respect for 
them, but threatens their institution of slavery 
unless they comply with her terms. Will Ten 
nessee take such a position as that ? I cannot be 
lieve it ; I never will believe it ; and if an ordinance 
of secession should be passed by that State under 
these circumstances, and an attempt should be 
made to force the people out of the Union, as has 
been done in some other States, without first 
having submitted that ordinance to the people for 
their ratification or rejection, I tell the Senate and 
the American people that there are many in Ten 
nessee whose dead bodies will have to be trampled 
over before it can be consummated. [Applause 
in the galleries.] The Senator from Mississippi 
referred to the flag of his country ; and I will read 
what he said, so that I may not be accused of mis 
representing him : 

" It may be pardoned to me, sir, who, in my very boyhood, 
was given to the military service, and who have followed that 
flag under tropical suns, and over northern snows, if I here 
express the deep sorrow which always overwhelms me when 
I think of turning from the flag I have followed so long, for 
which I have suffered in ways it does not become me to speak 
of; feeling that henceforth it is not to be the banner I will 
hail with the rising sun, and greet as the sun goes down ; the 
banner which, by day and by night, I am ready to follow. 


But God, who knows the hearts of men, will judge between 
you and us, at whose door lies the responsibility of this." 

There is no one in the United States who is more 
willing to do justice to the distinguished Senator 
from Mississippi than myself; and when I consider 
his early education ; when I look at his gallant 
services, finding him first in the military school 
of the United States, educated by his Government, 
taught the science of war at the expense of his 
country taught to love the principles of the Con 
stitution ; afterwards entering its service, fighting 
beneath the Stars and Stripes to which he has so 
handsomely alluded, winning laurels that are green 
and imperishable, and bearing upon his person scars 
that are honorable ; some of which have been won 
at home ; others of which have been won in a 
foreign clime, and upon other fields I would be 
the last man to pluck a feather from his cap or a 
single gem from the chaplet that encircles his brow. 
But when I consider his early associations ; when 
I remember that he was nurtured by this Govern 
ment ; that he fought for this Government ; that 
he won honors under the flag of this Government, 
I cannot understand how he can be willing to hail 
another banner, and turn from that of his country, 
under which he has won laurels and received honors. 
This is a matter of taste, however ; but it seems to 
me that, if I could not unsheathe my sword in vin 
dication of the flag of my country, its glorious Stars 
and Stripes, I would return the sword to its scab- 


bard ; I would never slieatlie it in the bosom of 
my mother ; never ! never ! never ! Sir, my own 
feelings in reference to that flag are such as must 
have filled the heart of that noble son of South 
Carolina, Joel R. Poinsett, when, nearly thirty 
years ago, in an address to the people of Charles 
ton, he declared, 

" Wherever I have been, I have been proud of being a 
citizen of this Republic, and to the remotest corners of the 
earth have walked erect and secure under that banner which 
our opponents would tear down and trample under foot. I 
was in Mexico when the town was taken by assault. The 
house of the American ambassador was then, as it ought to be, 
the refuge of the distressed and persecuted ; it was pointed 
out to the infuriated soldiery as a place filled with their ene 
mies. They refused to attack. My only defence was the flag 
of my country, and it was thrown out at the instant that hun 
dreds of muskets were levelled at us. Mr. Mason a braver 
man never- stood by his friend in the hour of danger and 
myself placed ourselves beneath its waving folds ; and the 
attack was suspended. We did not blanch, for we felt strong 
in the protecting arm of this mighty Republic. We told 
them that the flag that waved over us was the banner of that 
nation to whose example they owed their liberties, and to 
whose protection they were indebted for their safety. The 
scene changed as by enchantment ; those men who were on the 
point of attacking and massacring the inhabitants cheered 
the flag of our country, and placed sentinels to protect it 
from outrage. 

" Fellow-citizens, in such a moment as that, would it have 
been any protection to me and mine to have proclaimed my 
self a Carolinian ? Should I have been here to tell you this 
tale if I had hung out the palmetto and single star ? Be 
assured that, to be respected abroad, we must maintain our 
place in the Union." 


Sir, I intend to stand by that flag, and by the 
Union of which it is the emblem. I agree with 
Mr. A. H. Stephens of Georgia, " that this Gov 
ernment of our fathers, with all its defects, comes 
nearer the objects of all good governments than 
any other on the face of the earth." 

I have made allusions to the various Senators 
who have attacked me, in vindication of myself. 
I have been attacked on all hands by some five or 
six, and may be attacked again. All I ask is, that, 
in making these attacks, they meet my positions, 
answer my arguments, refute my facts. I care not 
for the number that may have attacked me ; I care 
not how many may come hereafter. Feeling that 
I am in the right, that argument, that fact, that 
truth are on my side, I place them all at defiance. 
Come one, come all ; for I feel, in the words of 
the great dramatic poet, 

" Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just; 
And he but naked, though locked up in steel, 
Whose conscience with [treason] is corrupted." 

I have been told, and I have heard it repeated, 
that this Union is gone. It has been said in this 
Chamber that it is in the cold sweat of death ; 
that, in fact, it is really dead, and merely lying in 
state waiting for the funeral obsequies to be per 
formed. If this be so, and the war that has been 
made upon me in consequence of advocating the 
Constitution and the Union is to result in my 
overthrow and in my destruction; and that flag, 


that glorious flag, the emblem of the Union, which 
was borne by Washington through a seven-years 
struggle, shall be struck from the Capitol and 
trailed in the dust when this Union is interred, 
I want no more honorable winding-sheet than that 
brave old flag, and no more glorious grave than to 
be interred in the tomb of the Union. [Applause 
in the galleries.] For it I have stood; for it I will 
continue to stand ; I care not whence the blows 
come ; and some will find, before this contest is 
over, that while there are blows to be given, there 
will be blows to receive ; and that, while others 
can thrust, there are some who can parry. God 
preserve my country from the desolation that is 
threatening her, from treason and traitors ! 

" Is there not some chosen curse, 

Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven, 
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man 
Who owes his greatness to his country s ruin?" 

[Applause in the galleries.] 

In conclusion, Mr. President, I make an appeal 
to the conservative men of all parties. You see 
the posture of public affairs ; you see the condition 
of the country ; you see along the line of battle the 
various points of conflict ; you see the struggle 
which the Union men have to maintain in many 
of the States. You ought to know and feel what 
is necessary to sustain those who, in their hearts, 
desire the preservation of this Union of States. 
Will you sit with stoic indifference, and see those 


who are willing to stand by the Constitution and 
uphold the pillars of the Government driven away 
by the raging surges that are now sweeping over 
some portions of the country? As conservative 
men, as patriots, as men who desire the preser 
vation of this great, this good, this unparalleled 
Government, I ask you to save the country ; or 
let the propositions be submitted to the people, 
that the heart of the nation may respond to them. 
I have an abiding confidence in the intelligence, 
the patriotism, and the integrity of the great mass 
of the people ; and I feel in my own heart that, if 
this subject could be got before them, they would 
settle the question, and the Union of these States 
would be preserved. [Applause in the galleries.] 





The Senate having under consideration the Report of the 
Peace Conference, and Mr. Lane of Oregon having concluded 
his speech, 

Mr. JOHNSON said : Mr. President : it is pain 
ful to me to be compelled to occupy any of the 
time of the Senate upon the subject that has just 
been discussed by the Senator from Oregon. Had 
it not been for the extraordinary speech he has 
made, and the singular course he has taken, I 
should refrain from saying one word at this late 
hour of the day and of the session. But, sir, it 
must be apparent, not only to the Senate, but to 
the whole country, that, either by accident or by de 
sign, there has been an arrangement that any one 
who appeared in this Senate to vindicate the Union 
of these States should be attacked. Why is it 
that no one in the Senate or out of it, who is 
in favor of the Union of these States, has made 
an attack upon me ? Why has it been left to 
those who have taken ground both openly and se 
cretly in violation of the Constitution, for the disrup 
tion of the Government ? Why has there been a 


concerted attack upon me from the beginning of this 
discussion to the present moment, not even confined 
within the ordinary courtesies of debate and of sena 
torial decorum ? It is a question which lifts itself 
above personalities. I care not from what direction 
the Senator comes who indulges in personalities to 
wards me ; in that, I feel that I am above him, and 
that he is my inferior. [Applause in the galleries.] 

The PRESIDING OFFICER 1 rapped with his mal 
let, and then said : The Chair will announce that 
if that disturbance is repeated in the galleries, they 
must be cleared. That is the order of the Senate 
for the purpose of conducting properly the delibera 
tions of the Senate. 

Mr. DOOLITTLE. I hope the Chair will enforce 
the order, and not threaten to do so. When ap 
plause is given on the expression of Union senti 
ments, in which I fully concur, I desire that the 
order shall be enforced, and there can then be no 
exception taken if we enforce the rules when ap 
plause may be given for any other sentiments 
uttered on this floor. 

Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I was alluding to 
the use of personalities. They are not arguments ; 
they are the-resort of men whose minds are low and 
coarse. It is very easy to talk about " cowards " ; 
to draw autobiographical sketches ; to recount the re 
markable, the wonderful events and circumstances 
and exploits that we have performed. I have pre- 

1 Mr. Polk in the chair. 


sented facts and authorities ; and upon them I have 
argued ; from them I have drawn conclusions ; and 
why have they not been met ? Why have they not 
been answered ? Why abandon the great issues be 
fore the country, and go into personalities ? In this 
discussion I shall act upon the principle laid down 
in Cowper s " Conversation," where he says, 

" A moral, sensible, and well-bred man 
Will not affront me; and no other can." 

But there are men who talk about cowardice, 
cowards, courage, and all that kind of thing ; and in 
this connection, I will say, once for all, not boast- 
ingly, with no anger in my bosom, that these two 
eyes never looked upon any being in the shape of 
mortal man that this heart of mine feared, 
r***- Sir, have we reached a point of time at which 
we dare not speak of treason ? Our forefathers 
talked about it ; they spoke of it in the Constitution 
of the country ; they have defined what treason is. 
Is it an offence, is it a crime, is it an insult to recite 
the Constitution that was made by Washington and 
his compatriots ? What does the Constitution define 
treason to be ? 

" Treason against the United States shall consist only in 
levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, 
giving them aid and comfort." 

There it is defined clearly that treason shall con 
sist only in levying war against the United States, 
and adhering to and giving aid and comfort to their 


enemies. Who is it that has been engaged in con 
spiracies ? Who is it that has been engaged in mak 
ing war upon the United States ? Who is it that 
has fired upon our flag ? Who is it that lias given 
instructions to take your arsenals, to take your forts, 
to take your dock-yards, to seize your custom-houses, 
and rob your treasuries ? Who is it that has been 
engaged in secret conclaves, and issuing orders for 
the seizure of public property in violation of the 
Constitution they were sworn to support ? In the 
language of the Constitution of the United States, 
are not those who have been eii^ao-ed in this ne- 

O O 

farious work guilty of treason ? I will now present 
a fair issue, and hope it will be fairly met. Show 
me the man who has been engaged in these con 
spiracies ; show me who has been sitting in these 
nightly and secret conclaves, plotting the overthrow 
of the Government ; show me who has fired upon 
our flag, has given instructions to take our forts and 
our custom-houses, our arsenals and our dock-yards, 
and I will show you a traitor ! [Applause in the 

The PRESIDING OFFICER : 1 The Sero-eant-at- 


Arms will clear the galleries on the right of the 

Chair immediately. 

Mr. JOHNSON. That is a fair proposition 

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from 

Tennessee will pause until the order of the Chair 

is executed. 

1 Mr. Polk in the chair. 


[Here a long debate ensued upon questions of 
order and the propriety of clearing the galleries.] 

Mr. JOHNSON then continued : I hope the exe 
cution of the order will be suspended, and I will go 
security for the gallery that they will not applaud 
any more. I should have been nearly through my 
remarks by this time but for this interruption. 

The PRESIDING OFFICER here announced that the 
order for clearing the galleries would be suspended. 

Mr. JOHNSON continued: Mr. President, when 
I was interrupted by a motion to clear the galleries, 
I was making a general allusion to treason as defined 
in the Constitution of the United States, and to 
those who were traitors and guilty of treason within 
the scope and meaning of the law and the Constitu 
tion. My proposition was, that if they would show 
me who were guilty of the offences I have enumer 
ated, I would show them who were the traitors. 
That being done, were I the President of the 
United States, I w r ould do as Thomas Jefferson did 
in 1806 with Aaron Burr, who was charged with 
treason : I would have them arrested and tried for 
treason, and, if convicted, by the Eternal God they 
should suffer the penalty of the law at the hands of 
the executioner. Sir, treason must be punished. / 
Its enormity and the extent and depth of the offence 
must be made known. The time is not distant, 
if this Government is preserved, its Constitution 
obeyed, and its laws executed in every department, 
when something of this kind must be done* 


The Senator from Oregon, in his remarks, said 
that a mind that it required six weeks to stuff could 
not know much of anything. He intimated that I 
had been " stuffed." I made my speech on the 
19th of December. The gentleman replied. I 
made another speech on the 5th and 6th of Feb 
ruary. And now, after a lapse of about four weeks, 
and at the close of the session, when it is believed 
there will be no opportunity to respond on account 
of the great press of business which must necessarily 
be acted on, he makes a reply. How long has lie 
been " stuffing " ? By whom and how often has he 
been " stuffed " ? [Laughter.] He has been stuffed 
twice ; and if the stuffing operation was as severe 
and as laborious as the delivery has been, he has had 
a troublesome time of it ; for his travail has been 
great, the delivery remarkable and excruciatingly 
painful. [Laughter.] 

Again : he speaks of " triumphant ignorance and 
exulting stupidity." Repartee and satire are not 
limited to one. I have no disposition, however, to 
indulge in coarse flings ; and, in fact, I think it is 
unsenatorial. Whatever may be the character of 
my mind, I have never obtrusively made it the sub 
ject of consideration. I may, nevertheless, have 
exhibited now and then the "exulting stupidity and 
triumphant ignorance " of which the Senator has 
spoken. Great and magnanimous minds pity igno 
rance. The Senator from Oregon, rich in intel 
lectual culture, with a mind comprehensive enough 


to retain the wisdom of ages, and an eloquence to 
charm a listening Senate, deplores mine ; but he 
should also be considerate enough to regard my 
humility. Unpretending in my ignorance, I am 
content to gaze at his lofty flights and glorious 
daring without aspiring to accompany him to re 
gions for which my wings have not been plumed 
nor my eyes fitted. Gorgeously bright are those 
fair fields in which he revels. To me, alas ! his 
heaven appears but as a murky region, dull, opaque, 
leaden. My pretension has been simply to do my 
duty to my State and to my country. 

The Senator has thought proper to refer to the 
action of my State ; and I may be permitted to re 
mark, that we in the South understand some things 
as well as they are understood in the North ; and 
when we find one who calls himself a Northern man, 
who boasts of his position there, making great pro 
fessions of friendship, greater attachment to our in 
stitutions and our interests than we do ourselves, in 
some minds it may have a tendency to excite sus 
picion. The Senator from Oregon is more Southern 
than the South itself. He has taken under his 
wing of protection the peculiar guardianship of the 
Southern States, and his every utterance is upon 
" the equality of the States, their rights in tV 
Union, or their independence out of it." I think 
Dr. Johnson advised that when a man comes to 
your house, and voluntarily makes great professions 
of his purity, his uprightness of purpose, his exalted 


character, of being far above suspicion and imputa 
tion, if you have any silver-ware hide it. When 
Northern Senators and Northern gentlemen make 
greater professions of devotion to our institutions 
than we do ourselves, our suspicions are somewhat 

The Senator has alluded to the action of my 
State ; he has commented upon my devotion to the 
people ; he has been reviewing my political history ; 
he has even commented upon the nature and char 
acter of my mind ; and he has failed to discover 
anything extraordinary in it. As to the character 
of my mind, as I before remarked, that is a subject 
which I have never obtruded upon any one. I have 
never made any pretensions to anything extraordi 
nary, as regards intellect or extensive information ; 
but, were the reverse of this all true, and had I the 
wisdom of Solomon, and a mind as strong, as clear, 
and as penetrating as the rays of the noonday sun 
when there is not a speck or a dot to obscure his 
disk, I should then even despair of breaking through 
the triple case of bigotry, superciliousness, and self- 
conceit, that surrounds the mind of the Senator from 
Oregon. Mind, did I say ? I recall that term ; I 
will not dignify it with the appellation of mind. No, 
it is the most miserable and the poorest caricature 
of a mind, that cannot even tell when it is upside up 
or upside down. 

The Senator has reviewed my political history. 
He has not discovered that I ever introduced or pro- 


jected any great measure except the " Homestead": 
to that I had given great attention and labor. From 
what he has said on this occasion, I may infer that 
he was opposed to the Homestead policy. I be 
lieved it was a beneficent measure. It has been an 
object long near my heart to see every head of a 
family domiciliated. I thought it was important 
that every honest and industrious head of a family 
in this Republic should have a home and an abiding 
place for his wife and children. I think so still. I 
can well remember the period of time at which I 
could exult in the assurance that I had a home for 
my family ; and I know how to sympathize with 
those who are not so blessed. Less gifted than the 
Senator from Oregon, I did not perceive that when, 
in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, and 
before the people, I advocated a measure that I 
thought had a tendency to alleviate and ameliorate 
the condition of the great mass of mankind, I was 
incurring the censure that is due to a crime. Lam 
entably devoid of his wisdom, if I had succeeded 
in accomplishing the great object I contemplated, 
the measure of my ambition would have been full. 
I have labored for it long ; I labor still. In 1846 it 
was introduced into the House of Representatives 
with but few friends. In 1852 it received a two- 
thirds vote of that House. It came to the Senate 
of the United States, and during the last session of 
Congress forty-four Senators voted for it, and only 
eight agathst it. The Senator from Oregon himself, 


though lie doubted and wavered, recorded his vote 
for it; but he is opposed to it now. I think it was 
one of the best acts of his life ; and if it had suc 
ceeded I think it would have been better for the 

But he intimates that I have been voting and act 
ing with Senators who are not so intensely Southern 
as he pretends to be. Sir, look at the Senator s 
course this mornino-. WJw has tried to defeat the 


measures that are so well calculated to restore peace ? 
Who is trying to cast out the olive-branch that has 
been brought into the Senate ? Why does he not 
stand with his noble colleague when this measure of 
peace is presented to the country ? 

But he refers to what has been the action of my 
State. Well, sir, we all know that the issue was 
directly made ; and what has been the result ? Ten 
nessee has spoken in language not to be misunder 
stood. She has spoken in thunder-tones that she is 
against violations of the Constitution and the trea- 


sonable schemes which would result in breaking up 
the Government. The Senator assumes a special 
guardianship over Tennessee. He had better try to 
take care of Oregon, and leave my colleague and 
myself, and the Representatives from Tennessee, to 
attend to Tennessee affairs. Where does he stand ? 
His colleague is in favor of measures to restore peace 
and sustain the country, and he is against them ; and 
did it occur to him that others might ask how he 
stood with the people of Oregon ? Tennessee stands 


redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled by the ex 
ercise of the elective franchise, that glorious Frank 
lin-rod which conducts the thunder of tyranny from 
the heads of the people. If the people of our sister 
States had enjoyed the same privilege of going to 
the ballot-box, and passing their judgment upon the 
ordinances of secession, I believe more of them 
would now be standing side by side with Tennessee, 
sustaining the laws and the Constitution. But the 
people have been overslaughed, a system of usurpa 
tion has been adopted, and a reign of terror instituted. 
The Senator is exceedingly solicitous about Ten 
nessee. I am inclined to think I do not intend 
to be censorious or personal, but entirely senatorial 
that at twelve o clock on Monday next, or a few 
minutes before, when the hand of the dial is moving 
round to mark that important point of time when his 
term of office shall expire, instead of thinking about 
the action of my State, he may soliloquize in the 
language of Cardinal Wolsey, and exclaim, 

"Nay, then, farewell! 

I have touched the highest point of all my greatness ; 
And, from that full meridian of my glory, 
I haste now to my setting : I shall fall 
Like a bright exhalation in the evening, 
And no man see me more." 

If the Senator has received the news from Ten 
nessee, if the information has broken through that 
triple case of bigotry, superciliousness, and self-con 
ceit which ensconce his caricature of a mind, with 
all his allusions to courage, and blood, and coward- 


ice, he might feel like Macbeth, who, so long 
deceived by the juggling fiends, when told by 
Macduff that he was not of woman born, but from 
his mother s womb untimely ripped, in agony ex 

" Accursed be that tongue that tells me so, 
For it hath cowed my better part of man : 
And be these juggling fiends no more believed, 
That palter with us in a double sense; 
That keep the word of promise to our ear, 
And break it to our hope." 

Yes, Mr. President, I have alluded to treason and 
traitors, and shall not shrink from the responsibility 
of having done so, come what will ; and while I, 
her humble representative, was speaking, Tennessee 
sent an echo back, in tones of thunder, which has 
carried terror and dismay through the whole camp 
of conspirators. 

The Senator has alluded to my political course. 
What had that to do with the pending question ? I 
did not attack the Senator from Oregon ; he has 
attacked me. I had not even made an allusion to 
him in my speech, except in general terms ; but he 
inquires into my consistency. How consistent has 
lie been ? We know how he stands upon popular 
or squatter sovereignty. On that subject he spoke 
at Concord, New Hampshire, where he maintained 
that the inhabitants of the Territories were the best 
judges ; that they were the very people to settle all 
these questions. I will read what the Senator said 
on that occasion : 


" There is nothing in the law, gentlemen, but what every 
enlightened American heart should approve. The idea in 
corporated in the Kansas- Nebraska bill is the true American 
principle; for the bill does not establish or prohibit slavery; 
lut leaves the people of these Territories perfectly free to 
regulate their own local affairs in their own way. Is there 
any man who can object to that idea ? Is there any Amer 
ican citizen who can oppose that principle ? 

" Gentlemen, I desire to say to you that the principle 
incorporated into the Kansas-Nebraska bill is the very prin 
ciple in defence of which your forefathers entered into the 
service of their country in the Revolutionary War ; for the 
American colonies, two years previous to the Declaration 
of Independence, asserted this same principle we now find 
incorporated in the Kansas-Nebraska bill. 

" Upon examination, you will find that the Declaration 
of Rights, made October 14, 1774, asserts that the people of 
the several colonies are entitled to a free and exclusive power 
of legislation in their several provincial legislatures in all 
cases of internal polity. This was refused by the Crown, 
but reasserted by our forefathers. Upon this issue the 
battles of the Revolution were fought ; by the blood of our 
fathers this principle of self-government was established. 
This right, refused by the King, was secured, consecrated, 
and established by the best blood that ever flowed in the 
veins of man. Would you now refuse to the people of the 
Territories the rights your noble sires demanded of the 
Crown, and won by their blood thus placing yourselves in 
opposition to the right of self-government in the Territories, 
thereby occupying the very position towards the Territories 
that George III. did to the colonies ? 

" The simple question involved here is, are the people 
capable of regulating their internal affairs, or must Con 
gress regulate those affairs for them ? It is strictly the doc 
trine of congressional non-intervention. Now, if that idea 
is the correct one if it is true that the American people 


are capable of self-government then the principles of the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill are right, and opposition to that bill 
is wrong ; consequently, dangerous to the best interests of 
the country. 

" The question of slavery is a most perplexing one, and 
ought not to be agitated. We should leave it with the 
State where it constitutionally exists, and the people of the 
Territories, to prohibit or establish, as to them may seem 
right and proper. 

" All that the Democracy asks in relation to this matter is, 
that the people of the Territory should be left perfectly free 
to settle the question of slavery for themselves, without the 
interference of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or any other 

During the last Congress, however, the Senator 
made a speech, in which he repeated, I cannot tell 
how many times, " the equality of the States, the 
rights of the States in the Union, and their rights 
out of the Union ; " and he thus shifted his course 
and repudiated his former position on squatter sov 
ereignty. That speech was made on the 24th of 
May last. From it I will read the following ex 

" I only desire to say, in relation to the series of resolu 
tions, a portion of which I have already voted in favor of, 
that I shall vote in favor of the rest ; for the whole of them 
together meet with my hearty approbation. They assert 
the truth ; they assert the great principle that the constitu 
tional rights of the States are equal ; that the States have 
equal rights in this country under the Constitution ; and, 
as I understand it. they must be maintained in that equality. 
These resolutions only assert that principle ; and I say that 
it is a misfortune to the country, in my opinion, that the 


principles laid down in these resolutions had not been as 
serted sooner. They ought to have been asserted by the 
Democratic party, in plain English, ten years ago. If they 
had been, you would have had no trouble in this country 
to-day ; the Democratic party would have been united and 
strong, and the equality and constitutional rights of the 
States would have been maintained in the Territory, and 
in all other things; squatter sovereignty would not have 
been heard of, and to-day we would be united." 

If the conflict between his speech made in Con 
cord in 1856 and his speech made here on the 24th 
day of May last can be reconciled, according to any 
rules of construction, it is fair to reconcile the con 
flict. If the discrepancy is so great between his 
speech made then and his speech on the 24th of 
May last as not to be reconciled, of course the dis 
crepancy is against him ; but I am willing to let one 
speech go as a set-oft to the other, which will make 
honors easy, so far as speech-making is concerned. 

Then how does the matter stand ? The speech 
made at Concord, extracts from which I have read, 
is on the one side, and that made in the Senate on 
the 24th of May last, to which 1 have referred, is on 
the other side. Now we will come to the sticking 
place. We will now make a test from which there 
is no escape. You have seen the equivocation to 
day. You have seen the cuttle-fish attempt to be 
cloud the water and elude the grasp of its pursuer. 
I intend to stick his inconsistencies to him as close 
and as tight as what I have heard sometimes called 
" Jew David s Adhesive Plaster." Now to the rec- 


ord, and we will see how the Senator s vote stands 
as compared with his speeches. By referring to the 
record, it will be found that Mr. Clingman offered 

the following as an amendment to the fourth resolu 

tion of the series introduced by Mr. Davis : 

" Resolved, That the existing condition of the Territories 
of the United States does not require the intervention of 
Congress for the protection of property in slaves." 

What was the vote on the amendment proposed 
to that resolution by Mr. Brown, to strike out the 
word " not " ? I want the Senator s attention, for 
I am going to cite the record from which there is 
no appeal. How would it read to strike out the 
word " not " ? ,^ 

" ^hat the existing condition of the Territories of the 
United States does require the intervention of Congress 
for the protection of property in slaves." 

Among those who voted against striking out the 
word " not," who declared that protection of slavery 
in the Territories by legislation of Congress was 
unnecessary, was the Senator from Oregon. When 
was that ? On the 25th day of May last. The Sen 
ator, under the solemn sanction of his oath, declared 
that legislation was not necessary. Now wdiere do 
we find him ? Here is a proposition to amend the 
Constitution to protect the institution of slavery in 
the States, and here is the proposition brought for 
ward by the Peace Conference, and we find the 
Senator standing against the one, and I believe he 
recorded his vote against the other. 


But we will proceed further with the investiga 
tion. The Senator voted that it was not necessary 
to legislate by Congress for the protection of slave 
property. Mr. Brown then offered the amend 
ment to the resolution submitted by Mr. Davis, to 
strike out all after the word " resolved," and to 
insert in lieu thereof, 

" That experience having already shown that the Con 
stitution and the common law, unaided by statutory enact 
ment, do not afford adequate and sufficient protection to 
slave property some of the Territories having failed, others 
having refused, to pass such enactments it has become 
the duty of Congress to interpose, and pass such laws as 
will afford to slave property in the Territories that protec 
tion which is given to other kinds of property." 

We have heard a great deal said here to-daj of 
" other kinds," and every description of property. 
There is a naked, clear proposition. Mr. Brown 
says it is needed ; that the court and the common 
law do not give ample protection ; and then the 
Senator from Oregon is called upon ; but what is 
his vote ? We find, in the vote upon this amend 
ment, that but three Senators voted for it ; and the 
Senator from Oregon records his vote, and says 
" no," it shall not be established ; and every South 
ern Senator present, save three, voted against it 
also. When was that ? On the 25th day of May 
last. Here is an amendment, now, to protect and 
secure the States against any encroachment upon 
the institution within the States, and there the Sen 
ator from Oregon swore that no further legislation 


was necessary to protect it in the Territories. Then, 
all the amendments being voted down, the Senate 
came to the vote upon this resolution, 

" That, if experience should at any time prove that the 
judicial and executive authority do not possess means to 
insure adequate protection to constitutional rights in a Ter 
ritory, and if the territorial government should fail or refuse 
to provide the necessary remedies for that purpose, it will 
be the duty of Congress to supply such deficiency, within the 
limits of its constitutional powers." 

Does not the resolution proceed upon the idea that 
it was not necessary then ; but if hereafter the Ter 
ritories should refuse, and the courts and the com 
mon law could not give ample protection, then it 
would be the duty of Congress to do this thing? 
What has transpired since the 25th day of May last ? 
Is not the decision of the court with us ? Is there 
not the Constitution carrying it there ? Why was 
not this resolution, declaring protection necessary, 
passed during the last Congress ? The presidential 
election was on hand. 

I have been held up, and indirectly censured, be 
cause I have stood by the people ; because I have 
advocated those measures that are sometimes called 
demagogical. I would to God that we had a few 
more men here who were for the people in fact, 
and who would legislate in conformity with their 
will and wishes. If we had, the difficulties and 
dangers that surround us now would be postponed 
and set aside ; they would not be upon us. But in 


May last we could not vote that it was necessary to 
pass a slave code for the Territories. Oh, no, the 
presidential election was on hand. We were very 
willing then to try to get Northern votes ; to secure 
their influence in the passage of resolutions ; and to 
crowd some men down, and let others up. It was all 
very well then ; but since the people have deter 
mined that some one else should be President of the 
United States, all at once the grape has got to be 
very sour, and gentlemen do not have as good an 
opinion of the people as they had before ; they have 
changed their views in regard to the people. They 
have not thought quite as well of some of the aspir 
ants as they desired ; and, as they could not get to 
be President and Vice-President of all these United 
States, rather than miss it altogether, they would 
be perfectly willing to be President and Vice-Presi 
dent of a part, and therefore they will divide yes, 
they will divide. They are in favor of secession ; 
of breaking up the Union ; of having the rights of 
the States out of the Union ; and as they signally 
failed in being President and Vice-President of all, 
as the people have decided against them, they have 
reached that precise point of time at which the Gov 
ernment ought to be dissevered and broken up. It 
looks a little that way. 

I have no disposition, Mr. President, to press this 
controversy further. If the Senator from Oregon is 
satisfied with the reply he has made to my speech 
or speeches, I am more than satisfied. I am willing 


that his speeches and mine shall go to the country ; 
and, as to the application and understanding of the 
authorities that are recited in each, I am willing to 
leave for the determination of an intelligent public. 
I shall make no issue with him on that subject. I 
feel to-day and I say it in no spirit of egotism 
that, in the reply I made to his speech, I vanquished 
every position he assumed ; I nailed many of his 
statements to the counter as spurious coin ; and I felt 
that I had the arguments, that I had the authority ; 
and so feeling, I know when I have my adversary 
in my power ; I know r when I have an argument 
that cannot be explained away, and a fact that can 
not be upturned. The Senator felt it. I know he 
felt it from his former manifestations, and from the 
manner in which he has poured forth the wrath so 
long nursed in his bosom. Yes, sir, in that con 
test, figuratively speaking, he was impaled and left 
writhing in bitter agony. He felt it. I saw he felt 
it, and now I have no disposition, in concluding my 
remarks, to mutilate the dead, or add one single pang 
to the tortures of the already politically damned. 
I am a humane man ; I will not add another pang 
to the intolerable sufferings of the distinguished 
Senator from Oregon. [Laughter.] I sought no 
controversy with him ; I have made no issue with 
him ; it has been forced upon me. How many have 
attacked me ; and is there a single man, North or 
South, who is in favor of this glorious Union, who 
has dared to make an assault upon me ? Is there 


one ? No, not one. But it is all from secession ; it 
is all from that reign of terror which usurpation 
has inaugurated. The Senator has made the set- 
to ; and it is for the Senate and the country to 
determine who has been crushed in the tilt. I am 
satisfied, if he is. I am willing, as I said before, 
that his speech and mine shall go to the country, 
and let an intelligent people read and understand, 
and see who is right and who is wrong on this 
great issue. 

But, sir, I alluded to the fact that secession has 
been brought about by usurpation. During the 
last forty days six States of this Confederacy have 
been taken out of the Union ; how ? By the voice 
of the people ? No ; it is demagogism to talk of 
the people. By the voice of the freemen of the 
country ? No. By whom has it been done ? 
Have the people of South Carolina passed upon the 
ordinance adopted by their convention ? No ; but 
a system of usurpation was instituted, and a reign 
of terror inaugurated. How was it in Georgia ? 
Have the people there passed upon the ordinance 
of secession ? No. We know that there was a 
powerful party there, of passive, conservative men, 
who have been overslaughed, borne down ; and 
tyranny and usurpation have triumphed. A con 
vention passed an ordinance to take the State out of 
the Confederacy ; and the very same convention ap 
pointed delegates to go to a congress to make a 
constitution, without consulting the people. So with 


Louisiana ; so with Mississippi ; so with all the six 
States which have undertaken to form a new con 
federacy. Have the people been consulted ? Not 
in a single instance. We are in the habit of saying 
that man is capable of self-government ; that he has 
the right, the unquestioned right, to govern himself; 
but here a government has been assumed over 
him ; it has been taken out of his hands, and at 
Montgomery a set of usurpers are enthroned, legis 
lating, and making constitutions and adopting them, 
without consulting the freemen of the country. Do 
we not know it to be so ? Have the people of Ala 
bama, of Georgia, of any of those States, passed 
upon it ? No ; but a constitution is adopted by 
those men, with a provision that it may be changed 
by a vote of two thirds. Four votes in a conven 
tion of six can change the whole organic law of a 
people constituting six States. Is not this a coup- 
d etat equal to any of Napoleon ? Is it not a usur 
pation of the people s rights ? 

In some of those States even the flag of our 
country has been changed. One State has a pal 
metto, another has a pelican, and another has the 
rattlesnake run up instead of the Stars and Stripes. 
On a former occasion I spoke of the origin of seces 
sion ; and I traced its early history to the Garden 
of Eden, when the serpent s wile and the serpent s 
wickedness beguiled and betrayed our first mother. 
After that occurred, and they knew light and knowl 
edge, when their Lord and Master appeared, they 


seceded, and hid themselves from his presence. 
The serpent s wile and the serpent s wickedness 
first started secession ; and now secession brings 
about a return of the serpent. Yes, sir; the wily 
serpent, the rattlesnake, has been substituted as the 
emblem on the flag of one of the seceding States, 
and that old flag, the Stars and the Stripes, under 
which our fathers fought and bled and conquered, 
and achieved our rights and our liberties, is pulled 
down and trailed in the dust. Will the American 
people tolerate it ? They will be indulgent ; time, I 
think, will be given ; but they will not submit to it. 

A word more in conclusion. Give the border 
States that security which they desire, and the time 
will come when the other States will come back ; 
when they will be brought back how ? Not by 
the coercion of the border States, but by the coer 
cion of the people ; and those leaders who have 
taken them out will fall beneath the indignation and 
the accumulating force of that public opinion which 
will ultimately crush them. The gentlemen who 
have taken those States out are not the men to 
bring them back. 

I have already suggested that the idea may have 
entered into some minds, " if we cannot get to be 
President and Vice-President of the whole United 
States, we may divide the Government, set up a 
new establishment, have new offices, and monop 
olize them ourselves w r hen we take our States 
out." Here we see a President made, a Vice- 


President made, cabinet officers appointed, and yet 
the great mass of the people not consulted, nor 
their assent obtained in any manner whatever. 
The people of the country ought to be aroused to 
this condition of things ; they ought to buckle on 
their armor ; and, as Tennessee has done, (God 
bless her !) by the exercise of the elective fran 
chise, by going to the ballot-box under a new set 
of leaders, repudiate and put down those men who 
have carried these States out and usurped a gov 
ernment over their heads. I trust in God that 
the old flag of the Union will never be struck. 
I hope it may long wave, and that we may long 
hear the national air sung : 

" The Star-Spangled banner, long may it wave 
O er the land of the free and the home of the brave." 

Long may we hear Hail Columbia, that good 
old national air ; long may we hear, and never 
repudiate, the old tune of Yankee Doodle ! Long 
may wave that gallant old flag which went through 
the Revolution, and which was borne by Tennessee 
and Kentucky at the battle of New Orleans. And 
in the language of another, while it was thus 
proudly and gallantly unfurled as the emblem of 
the Union, the Goddess of Liberty hovered around, 
when u the rockets red glare " went forth through 
the heavens, indicating that the battle was raging, 
and the voice of the old chief could be heard 
rising above the din of the storm, urging his gallant 
men on to the stern encounter, and watched the 



issue as the conflict grew fierce, and the result was 
doubtful; but when, at length, victory perched 
upon your standard, it was then, from the plains of 
New Orleans, that the Goddess made her loftiest 
flight, and proclaimed victory in strains of exul 
tation. Will Tennessee ever desert the grave of 
him who bore it in triumph, or desert the flag 
that he waved with success ? No, never ; she was 
in the Union before some of these States were in 
existence ; and she intends to remain in, and insist 
upon as she has the confident belief she shall 
get all her constitutional rights and protection in 
the Union, and under the Constitution of the coun 
try. [Applause in the galleries.] 

The PRESIDING OFFICER : J It will become the 
unpleasant but imperative duty of the Chair to clear 
the galleries. 

Mr. JOHNSON. I have done. 

[The applause was renewed, and was louder and 
more general than before. Hisses were succeeded 
by applause, and cheers were given and reiterated, 
with " Three cheers more for JOHNSON of Ten 
nessee ! "] 

[As Mr. JOHNSON sat down, the spectators in the 
densely crowded galleries rose in order to leave, 
when, after the lapse of a few seconds, a faint cheer, 
followed by the clapping of a single pair of hands r 
was raised in the southeast corner of the ladies gal 
lery. This was hesitatingly imitated by two or three 

1 Mr. Fitch in the chair. 


persons further on in the south range of the same 
gallery, but, instantaneously gathering strength, it 
lighted up the enthusiasm- of the packed galleries in 
the west and northwest quarters, and a tremendous 
outburst of applause, putting to silence the powerful 
blows from the hammer of the Presiding Officer, 
succeeded. Three cheers were given for the Union, 
and three for ANDREW JOHNSON of Tennessee ; and 
as by this time the Senators on the floor gave the 
strongest token of indignation and outraged dignity, 
the retreating crowd uttered a shower of hisses. 


Altogether, the exhibition was the most vociferous 
and unrepressed that ever took place in the galleries 
of either house of Congress.] 




FELLOW-CITIZENS : In reply to the cordial 
welcome which has just been tendered to me, 
through your chosen organ, in reply to what has 
been said by the gentlemen chosen by you to bid 
me welcome to Cincinnati, I have not language 
adequate to express my feelings of gratitude. I 
cannot find language to thank you for the tender 
of good-fellowship which has been made to me on 
the present occasion. I came here without any 
expectation that such a reception was in store for 
me. I had no expectation of being received and 
welcomed in the language, I may say, the eloquent 
and forcible language of your chosen organ. I am 
deserving of no such tender. 


I might conclude what little I am going to say 
by merely responding to and indorsing every single 
sentence uttered on this occasion, in welcoming me 
to your midst. [Applause.] 

For myself, I feel that while I am a citizen of a 
Southern State a citizen of the South, and of the 
State of Tennessee, I feel, at the same time, that I 
am also a citizen of the United States. [Applause.] 


Most cordially do I respond to what has been said 
in reference to the maintenance of the Constitution 
of the United States, in all its bearings, in all its 
principles therein contained. The Constitution of 
the United States lays down the basis upon which 
the Union of all the States of this confederacy can 
and may be maintained and preserved, if it be lit 
erally and faithfully carried out. [Applause.] So 
far as I am concerned, feeling that I am a citizen 
of the Union that I am a citizen of the United 
States, I am willing to abide by that Constitution. 
I am willing to live under a government that is 
built upon and perpetuated upon the principles laid 
down by the Constitution, which was framed by 
Washington and his compeers, after coming from 
the heat and strife of bloody revolution. [Ap 

I repeat, again, that I have not language adequate 
to express my gratitude and appreciation of the 
kindness which has been manifested in regard to 
my humble self. I cannot sufficiently thank you 
for the manifestation of your appreciation of the 
course I have pursued in regard to the crisis which 
is now upon this country. I have no words to 
utter, or rather I have words which will not give 
utterance to the feelings that I entertain on this 
occasion. [Applause.] I feel, to-day, a confidence 
in my own bosom that the cordiality, and the sym 
pathy, and the response that comes here from the 
people of Ohio, is heartfelt and sincere. I feel that 


in reference to the great question now before the 
people, those whom. I see before me are honest and 
sincere. [Applause.] I repeat again, and for 
the third time, that I have no language with which 
I can express my gratitude to you, and at the same 
time my devotion to the principles of the Consti 
tution, and the flag and emblem of our glorious 
Union of States. [Applause.] 

I know that there has been much said about the 
North, much said about the South. I am proud 
here, to-day, to hear the sentiments which have 
been uttered in reference to the North and the 
South, and the relations that exist between these 
two sections. [Applause.] I am glad to hear it 
said in such a place as this, that the pending diffi 
culties I might say, the existing war which 
are now upon this country, do not grow out of any 
animosity to the local institution of any section. 
[Applause.] I am glad to be assured that it grows 
out of a determination to maintain the glorious 
principles upon which the Government itself rests, 
the principles contained in the Constitution, 
and, at the same time, to rebuke and to bring back, 
as far as may be practicable, within the pale of the 
Constitution, those individuals, or States even, who 
have taken it upon themselves to exercise a prin 
ciple and doctrine at war with all government, 
with all association political, moral, and religious. 
[Applause.] I mean the doctrine of secession, 
which is neither more nor less than a heresy 


a fundamental error a political absurdity, coming 
in conflict with all organized government, with 
everything that tends to preserve law and order 
in the United States, or wherever else the odious 
and abominable doctrine may be attempted to be 
exercised. I look upon the doctrine of secession 
as coming in conflict with all organism, moral and 
social. I repeat, without regard to the peculiar 
institutions of the respective States composing this 
confederacy, without regard to any government 
that may be founded in the future, or exists in the 
present, this odious doctrine of secession should be 
crushed out, destroyed, and totally annihilated. 
No government can stand, no religious, or moral, 
or social organization can stand, where this doctrine 
is tolerated. [Applause.] It is disintegration 
universal dissolvement in making war upon every 
thing that has a tendency to promote and ameliorate 
the condition of the mass of mankind. [Applause.] 
Therefore I repeat, that this odious and abominable 
doctrine you must pardon me for using a strong 
expression I do not say it in a profane sense 
but this doctrine I conceive to be hell-born and 
hell-bound, and one which will carry everything in 
its train, unless it is arrested and crushed out from 
our midst. [Great Applause.] 

In response to what has been said to me here to 
day, I confess, when I lay my hand upon my bosom, 
I feel gratified at hearing the sentiments that have 
been uttered that we are all willing to stand up 


for the constitutional rights guaranteed to every 
State, every community, that we are all deter 
mined to stand up for the prerogatives secured to 
us in the Constitution as citizens of States, compos 
ing one grand confederacy, whether we belong to 
the North or to the South, to the East or to the 
West. I say that I am gratified to hear such senti 
ments uttered here to-day. I regard them as the 
most conclusive evidence that there is no disposition 
on the part of any citizens of the loyal States to 
make war upon any peculiar institution of the South, 
[Applause,] whether it be slavery or anything else, 
leaving that institution under the Constitution, 
to be controlled by time, circumstances, and the 
great laws which lie at the foundation of all things 
which political legislation can control. [Applause.] 
While I am before you, my countrymen, I am in 
hopes it will not be considered out of place for me 
to make a single remark or two in reference to 
myself as connected with the present crisis. My 
position in the Congress of the United States during 
its last session is, I suppose, familiar to most, if not 
all, of you. You know the doctrine I laid down 
then, and I can safely say that the opinions I enter 
tain now on the questions of the day are as they 
were then. I have not changed them. I have 
seen no reason to change them. I believe that a 
government without the power to enforce its laws 
made in conformity with the Constitution, is no 
government at all. [Applause.] We have arrived 


at that period in our national history at which it 
has become necessary for this Government to say 
to the civilized, as well as to the pagan world, 
whether it is in reality a government, or whether 
it is but a pretext for a government. If it has 
power to preserve its existence, and to maintain 
the principles of the Constitution and the laws, 
that time has now arrived. If it is a government, 
that authority should be asserted. I say, then, let 
the civilized world see that we have a overnment. 


Let us dispel the delusion under which we have 
been laboring since the inauguration of the Gov 
ernment in 1789, let us show that it is not an 
ephemeral institution, that we have not merely 
imagined we had a government, and when the 
test came, that the government frittered away be 
tween our fingers and quickly faded in the distance. 
[Applause.] The time has come when the gov 
ernment reared by our fathers should assert itself, 
and give conclusive proof to the civilized world that 
it is a reality and a perpetuity. [Applause.] Let 
us show to other nations that this doctrine of seces 
sion is a heresy ; that States coming into the con 
federacy, that individuals living in the confederacy, 
under the Constitution have no right nor authority, 
upon their own volition, to set the laws and the 
Constitution aside, and to bid defiance to the au 
thority of the government under which they live. 

I substantially cited the best authority that could 


be produced upon this subject, and took this position 
during the last session of Congress. I stand here 
to-day before you and advocate the same principles 
for which I then contended. As early as 1833, 
(let me here say I am glad to find that the com 
mittee which have waited upon me on this occasion 
represent all the parties among which we have been 
divided,) as early as 1833, I say, I formed my 
opinions in reference to this doctrine of secession 
in the nullification of the laws of the United States. 
I held these doctrines up to the year 1850, and I 
maintain them still. [Applause.] I entertained 
these opinions down to the latest sitting of Con 
gress, and I have reiterated them. I entertain and 
express them here to-day. [Applause.] In this 
connection I may be permitted to remark, that, 
during our last struggle for the Presidency, all 
parties contended for the preservation of the Union. 
Without going further back, what was that strug 
gle ? Senator Douglas, of the State of Illinois, was 
a candidate. His friends presented him as the best 
Union man. I shall speak upon this subject in ref 
erence to my position. Mr. Breckinridge s friends 
presented him to the people as the Union candidate. 
I was one of Mr. Breckinridge s friends. The Bell 
men presented the claims of the Hon. John Bell 
of Tennessee for the Presidency upon the ground 
that he was the best Union candidate. The Re 
publican party, so far as I understand them, have 
always been in favor of the Union. Then here 


was the contest between four candidates presented 
to the consideration of the people of the United 

Now, where do we find ourselves ? In times 
gone by you know we had our discussions and our 
quarrels. It was bank and anti-bank questions, 
tariff and anti-tariff, internal improvement and 
anti-internal improvement, or the distribution of 
the money derived from the sale of public land 
among the several States. Such measures as these 
were presented to the people, and the aim in the 
solution of all was how best to preserve the union 
of these States. One party favored the measures 
as calculated to promote the welfare of our common 
country ; another opposed them to bring about the 
same result. Then what was the former contest ? 
Bringing it down to the present time, there has 
been no disagreement between Republicans, Bell 
men, Douglas men, and Breckinridge men, as re 
gards the preservation of the union of States. 
Now, however, these measures are all laid aside ; 
all these party questions are left out of consid 
eration, and the great question comes up as to the 
Constitution, as adopted by the old Articles of Con 
federation, and afterwards reaffirmed in the adoption 
of the Constitution of the United States. Now, 
when this great question arises, involving the pres 
ervation and existence of the United States, I am 
proud to meet this vast concourse of people, and 
hear them say they are willing to lay aside all party 


measures, all party considerations, and come up to 
join in one fraternal hug to sustain the bright Stars 
and broad Stripes of our glorious Union, all will 
ing to cooperate for the consummation of a sublime 
purpose, without regard to former party differences, 

that we are all determined to stand fast by the 
union of these States. [Applause.] 

So far as I am concerned, I am willing to say in 
this connection that I am proud to stand here among 
you as one of the humble upholders and supporters 
of the Stars and Stripes that have been borne by 
Washington through a seven years revolution, a 
bold and manly struggle for our independence, and 
separation from the mother-country. That is my flag 

that flag was borne by Washington in triumph. 
Under it I want to live, and under no other. It is 
that flag that has been borne in triumph by the 
Revolutionary fathers over every battle-field, when 
our brave men, after toil and danger, laid down and 
slept on the cold ground, with no covering but the 
inclement sky, and arose in the morning and re 
newed their march over the frozen ground, as the 
blood trickled from their feet, all to protect that 
banner and bear it aloft triumphantly. I have inti 
mated that I should make some allusion to myself. 
I have indicated to you what were my opinions and 
my views from 1838 down to the moment I stand 
before you. With the facts in relation to the con 
test which took place recently in the State of Ten 
nessee, you are all familiar. No longer ago than 


last February there was an extra session of the 
Legislature called. There was then a law passed 
authorizing a convention to be called. The people 
of that State voted it down by a majority of sixty- 
four thousand. 

In a very short time afterwards another session 
of the Legislature was called. This Legislature 

o o 

went into secret session in a very short time. While 
the Southern Confederacy, or its agents, had access 
to it, and were put in possession of the doings and 
proceedings of this secret session, the great mass of 
my own State were not permitted even to put their 
ears to the keyhole, or to look through a crevice in 
the doors, to ascertain what was being done. A 
league with the Southern Confederacy has been 
formed, and the State has been handed over to the 
Southern Confederacy, with Jefferson Davis at its 
head. We, the people of Tennessee, have been 
handed over to this Confederacy, I say, like sheep 
in the shambles, bound hand and foot, to be dis 
posed of as Jefferson Davis and his cohorts may 
think proper. This Ordinance was passed by the 
Convention with a proviso that it should be sub 
mitted to the people. The Governor was authorized 
to raise fifty-five thousand men. Money was appro 
priated to enable him to carry out this diabolical 
and nefarious scheme, depriving the people of their 
rights, disposing of them as stock in the market, 
handing them over, body and soul, to the Southern 



Now you may talk about slaves and slavery, but 
in most instances when a slave changes his master, 
e,ven he has the privilege of choosing whom he de 
sires for his next master ; but in this instance the 
sovereign people of a free State have not been al 
lowed the power or privilege of choosing the master 
they desired to serve. They have been given a 
master without their consent or advice. No trouble 
was taken to ascertain what their desires were, 
they were at once handed over to this Southern 

Mr. JOHNSON here referred to the provisions of 
the Tennessee Secession Ordinance, &c. Noticing 
the persecution of the Union men in Tennessee, he 
remarked : 

But while this contest has been going on, a por 
tion of our fellow-citizens have been standing up for 
the Constitution and the Union, and because they 
have dared to stand upon the great embattlement 
of constitutional liberties, exercising the freedom and 
the liberty of speech, a portion of our people have 
declared that we are traitors ; they have said that our 
fate was to be the fate of traitors ; and that hemp 
was growing, and that the day of our execution was 
approaching; that the time would come when those 
who dare stand by the Constitution and the prin 
ciples therein embraced, would expiate their deeds 
upon the gallows. We have met all these things. 
We have met them in open day. We have met 
them face to face toe to toe at least in one por- 


tion of the State. We have told them that the 
Constitution of the United States defines treason, 
and that definition is, that treason against the United 
States shall consist only in levyino- war against the 

t/ J O & 

General Government of the United States. We 
have told them that the time would come when the 
principles of the Constitution and the law defining 
treason would be maintained. We have told them 
that the time would come when the judiciary of 
the Government would be sustained in such a man 
ner that it could define what was treason under the 
Constitution and the law made in conformity with 
it, and that when defined, they would ascertain who 
were the traitors, and who it was that would stretch 
the hemp they had prepared for us. [Applause.] 

I know that, in reference to myself and others, 
rewards have been offered, and it has been said that 
warrants have been issued for our arrest. Let me 
say to you here to-day, that I am no fugitive, 
especially no fugitive from justice. [Laughter.] If 
I were a fugitive, I would be a fugitive from 
tyranny a fugitive from the reign of terror. But, 
thank God, the country in which I live, and that 
division of the State from which I hail, will record 
a vote of twenty-five thousand against the Seces 
sion Ordinance. The county in which I live gave 
a majority of two thousand and seven against this 
odious, diabolical, nefarious, hell - born and hell- 
bound doctrine. 




The Senate having under consideration the joint resolu 
tion to approve and confirm certain acts of the President of 
the United States for suppressing insurrection and rebellion, 
Mr. JOHNSON said : 

MR. PRESIDENT : When I came from my home 
to the seat of Government, in compliance with the 
proclamation of the President of the United States 
calling us together in extra session, it was not my 
intention to engage in any of the discussions that 
might transpire in this body ; but since the session 
began, in consequence of the course that things 
have taken, I feel unwilling to allow the Senate to 
adjourn without saying a few words in response to 
many things that have been submitted to the Senate 
since its session commenced. What little I shall 
say to-day will be without much method or order. 
I shall present the suggestions that occur to my 
mind, and shall endeavor to speak of the condition 
of the country as it is. 

On returning here, we find ourselves, as we were 
when we adjourned last spring, in the midst of a 
civil war. That war is now progressing, without 


much hope or prospect of a speedy termination. It 
seems to me, Mr. President, that our Government 
has reached one of three periods through which all 
governments must pass. A nation, or a people, 
have first to pass through a fiery ordeal in obtain 
ing their independence or separation from the gov 
ernment to which they were attached. We passed 
through such an one in the Revolution ; we were 
seven years in effecting the separation, and in tak 
ing our position amongst the nations of the earth 
as a separate and distinct power. Then, after hav 
ing succeeded in establishing its independence, and 
taken its position among the nations of the earth, 
a nation must show its ability to maintain that posi 
tion, that separate and distinct independence against 
other powers, against foreign foes. In 1812, in the 
history of our Government, this ordeal commenced, 
and terminated in 1815. 

There is still another trial through which a nation 
must pass. It has to contend against internal foes ; 
against enemies at home ; against those who have 
no confidence in its integrity, or in the institutions 
that may be established under its organic law. We 
are in the midst of this third ordeal, and the prob 
lem now being solved before the nations of the 
earth, and before the people of the United States, 
is, whether we can succeed in maintaining ourselves 
against the internal foes of the Government ; whether 
we can succeed in putting down traitors and treason, 
and in establishing the great fact that we have a 



Govern muni with sufficient strength to maintain its 
existence against whatever combination may be pre 
sented in opposition to it. 

This brings me to a proposition laid down by the 
Executive in his recent message to the Congress 
of the United States. In that message the Presi 
dent said, 

" This is essentially a people s contest. On the side of the 
Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form 
and substance of government whose leading object is to ele 
vate the condition of men ; to lift artificial weights from all 
shoulders ; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all ; to 
afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance in the race of 
life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from 
necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for 
whose existence we contend." 

I think the question is fairly and properly stated 
by the President, that it is a struggle whether the 
people shall rule; whether the people shall have a 
government based upon their intelligence, upon 
their integrity, upon their purity of character, suf 
ficient to govern themselves. I think this is the 
true issue ; and the time has now arrived when the 
energies of the nation must be put forth, when there 
must be union and concert among all who agree in 
man s capability of self - government, in order to 
demonstrate that great proposition, without regard 
to former party divisions or prejudices. 

Since this discussion commenced, it has been 
urged in argument, by Senators on one side, that 
there was a disposition to change the nature and 


character of the Government ; and that, if \ve pro 
ceeded as we were going, it would result in estab 
lishing a dictatorship. It has been said that the 
whole framework, nature, genius, and character of 
the Government would be entirely changed ; and 
great apprehensions have been expressed that it 
would result in a consolidation of the Government 
or a dictatorship. We find, in the speech delivered 
by the distinguished Senator from Kentucky 1 the 
other day, the following paragraph, alluding to what 
will be the effect of the passage of this joint resolu 
tion approving the action of the President : 

u Here in Washington, in Kentucky, in Missouri, every 
where where the authority of the President extends, in his 
discretion he will feel himself warranted by the action of Con 
gress upon this resolution to subordinate the civil to the mili 
tary power ; to imprison citizens without warrant of law ; to 
suspend the writ of habeas corpus; to establish martial law; 
to make seizures and searches without warrant ; to suppress 
the press ; to do all those acts which rest in the will and in 
the authority of a military commander. In my judgment, sir, 
if we pass it, we are upon the eve of putting, so far as we can, 
in the hands of the President of the United States the power 
of a dictator." 

Then, in reply to the Senator from Oregon, 2 he 
seems to have great apprehension of a radical change 
in our form of government. The Senator goes on 
to say, 

" The pregnant question, Mr. President, for us to decide 
is, whether the Constitution is to be respected in this struggle ; 
whether we are to be called upon to follow the flag over the 
1 Mr. Breckinridge. 2 Mr. Baker. 


ruins of the Constitution ? Without questioning the motives 
of any, I believe that the whole tendency of the present pro 
ceedings is to establish a government without limitation of 
powers, and to change radically our frame and character of 

Sir, I most frilly concur with the Senator that 
there is a great effort being made to change the 
nature and character of our Government. I think 
that effort is being demonstrated and manifested 
most clearly every day ; but we differ as to the 
parties who are making this great effort. 

The Senator alludes in his speech to a conversa 
tion he had with some very intelligent gentleman 
who formerly represented our country abroad. It 
appears from that conversation that foreigners were 
accustomed to say to Americans, " I thought your 
Government existed by consent ; now how is it to 
exist? " and the reply was, " We intend to change 
it ; we intend to adapt it to our condition ; these 
old colonial geographical divisions and States will 
ultimately be rubbed out, and we shall have a gov 
ernment strong and powerful enough." The Sen 
ator seemed to have great apprehensions based on 
those conversations. He read a paragraph from a 
paper, indicating that State lines were to be rubbed 
out. In addition to all this he goes on to state that 
the writ of habeas corpus has been violated, and he 
says that since the Government commenced there 
has not been a case equal to the one which has 
recently transpired in Maryland. I shall take up 


some of his points in their order, and speak of them 
as I think they deserve to be spoken of. The Sena 
tor says, 

" The civil authorities of the country are paralyzed, and a 
practical martial law is being established all over the land. 
The like never happened in this country before, and would 
not be tolerated in any country in Europe which pretends to 
the elements of civilization and regulated liberty. George 
Washington carried the thirteen colonies through the war of 
the Revolution without martial law. The President of the 
United States cannot conduct the Government three months 
without resorting to it." 

The Senator puts great stress on the point, and 
speaks of it in very emphatic language, that Gen 
eral Washington carried the country through the 
seven years of the Revolution without resorting to 

/ O 

martial law during all that period of time. Now, 
how does the matter stand? When we come to 
examine the history of the country, it would seem 
that the Senator had not hunted up all the cases. 
We can find some, and one in particular, not very 
different from the case which has recently occurred, 
and to which he alluded. In 1777, the second year 
of the war of the Revolution, numbers of the So 
ciety of Friends in Philadelphia were arrested on 
suspicion of being disaffected to the cause of Amer 
ican freedom. A publication now before me says, 

" The persons arrested, to the number of twenty," .... 
" were taken into custody, by military force, at their homes 
or usual places of business ; many of them could not obtain 
any knowledge of the cause of their arrest, or of any one to 


whom they wore amenable, and they could only hope to avail 
themselves of the intervention of some civil authority. 

" The Executive Council [of the State of Pennsylvania], 
being formed of residents of the city and county of Phila 
delphia, had a better knowledge of the Society of Friends and 
of their individual characters than the members of Congress 
assembled from the various parts of the country, and ought to 
have protected them. But instead of this, they caused these 
arrests of their fellow-citizens to be made with unrelenting 
severity, and from the 1st to the 4th day of September, 1777, 
the party was taken into confinement in the Mason s Lodge, 
in Philadelphia. 

"On the minutes of Congress of 3d September, 1777, it 
appears that a letter was received by them from George Bryan, 
Vice-President of the Supreme Executive Council, dated 2d 
September, stating that arrests had been made of persons in 
imical to the American States, and desiring the advice of 
Congress particularly whether Augusta and Winchester, in 
Virginia, would not be proper places at which to secure pris 
oners." .... 

" Congress must have been aware that it was becoming a 
case of very unjust suffering, for they passed their resolution 
of 6th September, 1777, as follows: 

" That it be recommended to the Supreme Executive 
Council of the State of Pennsylvania to hear what the said re 
monstrants can allege to remove the suspicions of their being 
disaffected or dangerous to the United States. 

" But the Supreme Executive Council on the same day, 
referring to the above, 

" * Resolved, That the President do write to Congress to let 
them know that the Council has not time to attend to that 
business in the present alarming crisis, and that they were, 
agreeably to the recommendation of Congress, at the moment 
the resolve was brought into Council, disposing of everything 
for the departure of the prisoners. " 


" As the recommendation of Congress of the Gth of Septem 
ber, to give the prisoners a hearing, was refused by the Su 
preme Executive Council, the next minute made by Congress 
was as follows : 

" In Congress, 8th September, 1777. 

" * Resolved, That it would be improper for Congress to enter 
into a hearing of the remonstrants or other prisoners in the 
Mason s Lodge, they being inhabitants of Pennsylvania ; and 
therefore, as the Council declines giving them a hearing for 
the reasons assigned in their letter to Congress, that it be 
recommended to said Council to order the immediate departure 
of such of the said prisoners as yet refuse to swear or affirm 
allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania, to Staunton, in Vir 

" The remonstrances made to Congress, and to the Supreme 
Executive Council, being unavailing, the parties arrested were 
ordered to depart for Virginia, on the llth September, 1777, 
when, as their last resource, they applied, under the laws of 
Pennsylvania, to be brought before the judicial court by writs 
of habeas corpus. 

" The departure of the prisoners was committed to the care 
of Colonel Jacob Morgan, of Bucks County, and they were 
guarded by six of the light-horse, commanded by Alexander 
Nesbitt and Samuel Caldwell, who were to obey the despatches 
from the Board of War, of which General Horatio Gates was 
president, directed to the lieutenants of the counties through 
which the prisoners were to pass. 

" The writs of habeas corpus, on being presented to the Chief 
Justice, were marked by him, Allowed by Thomas McKean, 
and they were served on the officers who had the prisoners in 
custody, when they had been taken on their journey as far as 
Reading, Pennsylvania, on the 14th day of September, but the 
officers refused to obey them. 

" It appears by the Journal of the Supreme Executive 
Council of the 16th of September, that Alexander Nesbitt, one 
of the officers, had previously obtained information about the 


writs, and made a report of them ; when the Pennsylvania 
Legislature, at the instance of the Supreme Executive Coun 
cil, passed a law on the 16th of September, 1777, to suspend 
the habeas corpus act , and although it was an ex post facto 
law, as it related to their case, the Supreme Executive Coun 
cil on that day ordered the same to be carried into effect." 

Continuing the history of this case, we find 
that - 

" The party consisted of twenty persons, of whom seventeen 
were members of the Society of Friends. They were ordered 
first to Staunton, then a frontier town in the western settle 
ment of Virginia, but afterwards to be detained at Winchester, 
where they were kept in partial confinement nearly eight 
months, without provision being made for their support ; for 
the only reference to this was by a resolution of the Supreme 
Executive Council of Pennsylvania, dated April 8, 1778, as 
follows : 

u Ordered, That the whole expenses of arresting and con 
fining the prisoners sent to Virginia, the expenses of their 
journey, and all other incidental charges, be paid by the said 

" During the stay of the exiles at Winchester, nearly all of 
them suffered greatly from circumstances unavoidable in their 
situation from anxiety, separation from their families left 
unprotected in Philadelphia, then a besieged city, liable at any 
time to be starved out or taken by assault ; while from sick 
ness and exposure during the winter season, in accommoda 
tions entirely unsuitable for them, two of their number departed 
this life in the month of March, 1778." 

Thus, Mr. President, we find that the writ of 
habeas corpus was suspended by the authorities of 
Pennsylvania, during the Revolution, in the case 
of persons who were considered dangerous and 


inimical to the country. A writ was taken out 
and served upon the officers, and they refused to 
surrender the prisoners, or even to give them a 
hearing. If the Senator from Kentucky had de 
sired an extreme case, and wished to make a dis 
play of his legal and historical information, it would 
have been very easy for him to have cited this case 
much more aggravated, much more extravagant, 
much more striking, than the one in regard to 
which he was speaking. Let it be remembered, 
also, that this case, although it seems to be an ex 
travagant and striking one, occurred during the 
war of the Revolution, under General Washington, 
before we had a President. We find that at that 
time the writ of habeas corpus was suspended, and 
twenty individuals were denied even the privilege 
of a hearing, because they were considered inimical 
and dangerous to the liberties of the country. In 
the midst of the Revolution, when the writ of 
habeas corpus was as well understood as it is now, 
when they were familiar with its operation in Great 
Britain, when they knew and understood all the 
rights and privileges it granted to the citizen, we 
find that the Legislature of Pennsylvania passed 
a law suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and 
went back and relieved the officers who refused to 
obey the writs, and indemnified them from the 
operation of any wrong they might have done. If 
the Senator wanted a strong and striking case, one 
that would bear comment, why did he not go back 



to this case, that occurred in the Revolution, during 
the very period referred to by him ? But no ; all 
these cases seem to have been forgotten, and the 
mind was fixed upon one of recent occurrence. 
There is a great similarity in them ; but the one 
to which I have alluded is a much stronger case 
than that referred to by the Senator. It was in 
Philadelphia, where Congress was sitting ; it was 
in Pennsylvania, where these persons, who were 
considered inimical to the freedom of the country, 
were found. Congress was appealed to, but Con 
gress executed the order ; and the Legislature of 
Pennsylvania afterwards passed a law indemnifying 
the persons who in execution of the order violated 
the right to the writ of habeas corpus. What is 
our case now ? We are not struggling for the 
establishment of our nationality, but we are now 
struggling for the existence of the Government. 
Suppose the writ of habeas corpus has been sus 
pended : the question arises whether it was not a 
justifiable suspension at the time ; and ought we 
not now to indorse what we would ourselves have 
done if we had been here at the time the power 
was exercised ? 

The impression is sought to be made on the pub 
lic mind that this is the first and only case where 
the power has been exercised. I have shown that 
there is one tenfold more striking, that occurred 
during our struggle for independence. Is this the 
first time that persons in the United States have 


been placed under martial law? In 1815, when New 
Orleans was about to be sacked, when a foreign foe 
was upon the soil of Louisiana, New Orleans was 
put under martial law, and Judge Hall was made 
a prisoner because he attempted to interpose. Is 
there a man here, or in the country, who condemns 
General Jackson for the exercise of the power of 
proclaiming martial law in 1815 ? Could that city 
have been saved without placing it under martial 
law, and making Judge Hall submit to it ? I know 
that General Jackson submitted to be arrested, 
tried, and fined $1000 ; but what did Congress do 
in that case ? It did just we are called on to do in 
this case. By the restoration of his fine an act 
passed by an overwhelming majority in the two 
houses of Congress the nation said "We approve 
what you did." Suppose, Mr. President, (and it 
may have been the case,) that the existence of the 
Government depended upon the protection and 
successful defence of New Orleans ; and suppose, 
too, it w 7 as in violation of the strict letter of the 
Constitution for General Jackson to place New 
Orleans under martial law, but without placing it 
under martial law the Government would have been 
overthrown : is there any reasonable, any intelli 
gent man in or out of Congress who would not 
indorse and approve the exercise of a power which 
was indispensable to the existence and maintenance 
of the Government ? The Constitution was likely 
to be overthrown, the law was about to be violated, 


and the Government trampled under foot ; and 
whenever it becomes necessary to prevent this, 
even by exercising a power that comes in conflict 
with the Constitution in time of peace, it surely 
ought to be exercised. If General Jackson had 
lost the city of New Orleans, and the Government 
had been overthrown through a refusal on his part 
to place Judge Hall and the city of New Orleans 
tinder martial law, he ought to have lost his head. 
But he acted as a soldier ; he acted as a patriot ; 
he acted as a statesman, as one devoted to the 
institutions and the preservation and the existence 
of his Government ; and the grateful homage of a 
nation was his reward. 

Then, sir, the power which has been exercised 
in this instance is no new thing. In great emer 
gencies, when the life of a nation is in peril, when 
its very existence is endangered, to question too 
nicely, to scan too critically, its acts in the very 
midst of that crisis, when the Government is liable 
to be overthrown, is to make war upon it, and to 
try to paralyze its energies. If those who seem 
to violate the laws of the United States in their 
efforts to preserve the Government are to be called 
to an account, wait until the country passes out of 
its peril ; wait until the country is relieved from its 
difficulty ; wait until the crisis passes by, and then 
come forward, dispassionately, and ascertain to 
what extent the law has been violated, if indeed 
it has been violated at all. 


A great ado has been made in reference to the 
Executive proclamation calling out the militia of 
the States to the extent of seventy-five thousand 
men. That call was made under the authority of 
the act of 1795, and is perfectly in accordance with 
the law. It has been decided by the Supreme 
Court of the United States that that act is consti 
tutional, and that the President alone is the judge 
of the question whether the exigency has arisen. 
This decision was made in the celebrated case of 
Martin vs. Mott. Let me read from the opinion 
of the court, delivered by Judge Story : 

It has not been denied here that the act of 1795 is within 
the constitutional authority of Congress, or that Congress may 
not lawfully provide for cases of imminent danger of invasion, 
as well as for cases where an invasion has actually taken place. 
In our opinion, there is no ground for a doubt on this point, 
even if it had been relied on ; for the power to provide for 
repelling invasion includes the power to provide against the 
attempt and danger of invasion, as the necessary and proper 
means to effectuate the object One of the best means to 
repel invasion is to provide the requisite force for action before 
the invader himself has reached the soil. 

" The power thus confided by Congress to the President is, 
doubtless, of a very high and delicate nature. A free people 
are naturally jealous of the exercise of military power ; and 
the power to call the militia into actual service is certainly felt 
to be one of no ordinary magnitude. But it is not a power 
which can be executed without a correspondent responsibility. 
It is, in its terms, a limited power, confined to cases of actual 
invasion, or of imminent danger of invasion. If it be a limited 
power, the question arises, by whom is the exigency to be 
judged cf and decided? Is the President the sole and ex- 


elusive judge whether the exigency has arisen, or is it to be 
considered as an open question, upon which every officer, to 
whom the orders of the President are addressed, may decide 
for himself, and equally open to be contested by every militia 
man who shall refuse to obey the orders of the President ? 
We are all of opinion that the authority to decide whether the 
exigency has arisen belongs exclusively to the President, and 
that his decision is conclusive upon all other persons. We 
think that this construction necessarily results from the nature 
of the power itself and from the manifest object contemplated 
by the act of Congress. The power itself is to be exercised 
upon sudden emergencies, upon great occasions of state, and 
under circumstances which may be vital to the existence of the 
Union. A prompt and unhesitating obedience to orders is in 
dispensable to the complete attainment of the object. The ser 
vice is a military service, and the command of a military nature ; 
and in such cases every delay and every obstacle to an efficient 
and immediate compliance necessarily tend to jeopard the pub 
lic interests." Martin vs. Mott, 12 Wheaton s Reports, p. 29. 

We see, then, that the power is clear as to calling 
out the militia ; and we have seen that we have 
precedents for the suspension of the writ of habeas 

The next objection made is, that the President 
had no power to make additions to the Navy and 
Army. I say that in this he is justified by the 
great law of necessity. At the time, I believe it 
was necessary to the existence of the Government ; 
and it being necessary, he had a right to exercise 
all those powers that, in his judgment, the crisis 
demanded for the maintenance of the existence of 
the Government itself. The real question if you 
condemn the President for acting in the absence 


of law is, Do you condemn the propriety of his 
course ; do you condemn the increase of the Army ; 
do you condemn the increase of the Navy ? If 
you oppose the measure simply upon the ground 
that the Executive called them forth anticipating 
law, I ask what will you do now ? The question 
presents itself at this time, Is it not necessary to 
increase the Army and the Navy ? If you con 
demn the exercise of the power by the Executive 
in the absence of law, what will you do now, as 
the law-making power, when it is manifest that the 
Army and Navy should be increased ? You make 
war upon the Executive for anticipating the action 
of Congress. Does not the Government need an 
increase of the Army and the Navy ? Where do 
gentlemen stand now ? Are they for it ? Do they 
sustain the Government ? Are they giving it a 
helping hand ? No ; they go back and find fault 
with the exercise of a power that they say was 
without law ; but now, when they have the power 
to make the law, and when the necessity is appar 
ent, they stand back and refuse. Where does that 
place those who take that course ? It places them 
against the Government, and against placing the 
means in the hands of the Government to defend 
and perpetuate its existence. The object is ap 
parent, Mr. President. We had enemies of the 
Government here last winter ; in my opinion, we 
have enemies of the Government here now. 
I said that I agreed with the Senator from Ken- 


tucky that there was a design a deliberate deter 
mination to change the nature and character of our 
Government. Yes, sir, it has been the design for 
a long time. All the talk about slavery and com 
promise has been but a pretext. We had a long 
disquisition, and a very feeling one, from the Sen 
ator from Kentucky. He became pathetic on the 
hopelessness of compromises. Did not the Senator 
from California 1 the other day show unmistakably 
that it was not compromises they wanted ? I will 
add, that compromise was the thing they most 
feared ; and their great effort was to get out of 
Congress before any compromise could be made. 
From the fi rst, their cry was for peaceable secession 
and reconstruction. They talked not of compro 
mise ; and, I repeat, their greatest dread and fear 
was, that something would be agreed upon ; that 
their last and only pretext would be swept from 
under them, and that they would stand before the 
country naked and exposed. The Senator from 
California pointed out to you a number of these 
men who stood here and did not vote for certain 
propositions of compromise, and by their means 
those propositions were lost. 

"What was the action before the committee of 
thirteen ? Why did not that committee agree ? 
Some of the most ultra men from the North were 
members of that committee, and they proposed to 
amend the Constitution so as to provide that Con- 

1 Mr. Latham. 


gress in the future never should interfere with the 
subject of slavery. The committee failed to agree, 
and some of its members at once telegraphed to 
their States that they must go out of the Union at 
once. But after all that transpired in the early 
part of the session, what was done ? We know 
what the argument has been, in times gone by, 
again and again. It has been said that one great 
object of the North was, first to abolish slavery 
in the District of Columbia and the slave-trade 
between the States, as a kind of initiative measure ; 
next, to exclude it from the Territories ; and when 
the free States constituted three fourths of all the 
States, so as to have power to change the Consti 
tution, they would amend the Constitution so as to 
give Congress power to legislate upon the subject 
of slavery in the States, and expel it from the 
States in which it is now. Has not that been the 
argument ? Now, how does the matter stand ? 
At the last session of Congress seven States with 
drew ; it may be said that eight withdrew ; reducing 
the remaining slave States down to one fourth of 
the whole number of States. The charge has been 
made, that, whenever the free States constituted a 
majority in the Congress of the United States suf 
ficient to amend the Constitution, they would so 
amend it as to legislate upon the institution of 
slavery within the States, and that the institution 
of slavery would be overthrown. This has been 
the argument ; it has been repeated again and again t 


and hence the great struggle about the Territories. 
The argument was, that we must prevent the cre 
ation of free States ; we did not want to be re 
duced to that point where, under the sixth article 
of the Constitution, three fourths could amend 
the Constitution so as to exclude slavery from the 
States. This has been the great point ; this has 
been the rampart over which it has been urged that 
the free States wanted to pass. Now, how does the 
fact stand ? Let us " render unto Cassar the things 
that are Caesar s." We. reached, at the last session, 
just the point where we were in the power of the 
free States, and then what was done ? Instead of 
an amendment to the Constitution of the United 
States conferring power upon Congress to legislate 
upon the subject of slavery, what was done ? This 
joint resolution was passed by a two-thirds majority 
in each House : 

" Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled, That 
the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the 
several States, as an amendment to the Constitution of the 
United States, which, when ratified by three fourths of said 
Legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as 
part of the said Constitution, viz : 

" ART. 13. No amendment shall be made to the Constitu 
tion which will authorize or give to Congress the power to 
abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic insti 
tutions thereof, including that of persons held to service or 
labor by the laws of said State." 

Is not that very conclusive ? Here is an amend- 


ment to the Constitution of the United States to 
make the Constitution unamendable upon that sub 
ject, as it is upon some other subjects ; that Con 
gress, in the future, should have no power to legis 
late on the subject of slavery within the States. 
Talk about " compromise," and about the settlement 
of this question ; how can you settle it more sub 
stantially ? How can you get a guaranty that is 
more binding than such an amendment to the Con 
stitution ? This places the institution of slavery in 
the States entirely beyond the control of Congress. 
Why have not the Legislatures that talk about 
" reconstruction " and " compromise " and "guaran 
ties," taken up this amendment to the Constitution 
and adopted it ? Some States have adopted it. 
How many Southern States have done so ? Take 
my own State, for instance. Instead of accepting 
guaranties protecting them in all future time against 
the legislation of Congress on the subject of slavery, 
they undertake to pass ordinances violating the Con 
stitution of the country, and taking the State out of 
the Union and into the Southern Confederacy. It 
is evident to me from all these things, that with 
many the talk about compromise and the settlement 
of this question is mere pretext, especially with those 
who understand the question. 

What more was done at the last session of Con 
gress, when the North had the power? Let us tell 
the truth. Three territorial bills were brought for 
ward and passed. You remember in 1847, when 


the agitation arose in reference to the Wilmot pro 
viso. You remember in 1850 the contest about 
slavery prohibition in the Territories. You remem 
ber in 1854 the excitement in reference to the Kan 
sas-Nebraska bill, and the power conferred on the 
Legislature by it. Now we have a Constitutional 
amendment, proposed at a time when the Republi 
cans have the power ; and at the same time they 
come forward with three territorial bills, and in 
neither of those bills can be found any prohibition, 
so far as slavery in the Territories is concerned. 
Colorado, Nevada, and Dakota are organized with 
out any prohibition of slavery. But what do you 
find in these bills ? Mark, Mr. President, that there 
is no slavery prohibition ; mark too, the language of 
the sixth section, conferring power upon the Terri 
torial Legislature, 

" SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That the legislative 
power of the Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects 
of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United 
States and the provisions of this act ; but no law shall be 
passed interfering with the primary disposal of the soil ; no 
tax shall be imposed upon the property of the United States ; 
nor shall the lands or other property of non-residents be taxed 
higher than the lands or other property of residents ; nor shall 
any law be passed impairing the rights of private property ; 
nor shall any discrimination be made in taxing different kinds 
of property ; but all property subject to taxation shall be in 
proportion to the value of the property taxed." 

Can there be anything more clear and conclusive ? 
First, there is no prohibition ; next, the Legislature 


shall have no power to legislate so as to impair the 
rights of private property, and shall not tax one de 
scription of property higher than another. Now, 
Mr. President, I ask any reasonable, intelligent man 
throughout the Union, to take the amendment to 
the Constitution, take the three territorial bills, put 
them all together, and how much of the slavery ques 
tion is left ? Is there any of it left ? Yet we hear 
talk about compromise ; and it is said the Union 
must be broken up because you cannot get com 
promise. Does not this settle the whole question ? 
I should like to know how much more secure we 
can be in regard to this question of slavery ? These 
three territorial bills cover every square inch of ter 
ritory we have got ; and here is an amendment to 
the Constitution embracing the whole question, so 
far as the States and the public lands of the United 
States are concerned. I know there are some who 
are sincere in this talk about compromise ; but there 
are others who are merely making it a pretext, 
who come here claiming something in the hope that 
it will be refused, and that then, upon that refusal, 
their States may be carried out of the Union. 

I am as much for compromise as any one can be ; 
and there is no one who would desire more than 
myself to see peace and prosperity restored to the 
land ; but when we look at the condition of the 
country, we find that rebellion is rife, that treason 
has reared its head. A distinguished Senator from 
Georgia once said, " When traitors become numer- 



ous enough, treason becomes respectable." Traitors 
are getting to be so numerous now that I suppose 
treason has almost got to be respectable ; but God 
being willing, whether traitors be many or few, as I 
have hitherto waged war against traitors and trea 
son, and in behalf of the Government which was 
constructed by our fathers, 1 intend to continue it to 
the end. [Applause in the galleries.] 

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Order ! 

Mr. JOHNSON continued : Mr. President, we 
are in the midst of a civil war ; blood has been shed ; 
life has been sacrificed. Who commenced it ? Of 
that we will speak hereafter. I am speaking now 
of the talk about compromise. Traitors and rebels 
are standing with arms in their hands, and it is said 
that we must go forward and compromise with them. 
They are in the wrong ; they are making war upon 
the Government ; they are trying to upturn and de 
stroy our free institutions. I say to them that the 
compromise I have to offer under the existing cir 
cumstances is, " Ground your arms ; obey the 
laws ; acknowledge the supremacy of the Consti 
tution ; when you do that, I will talk to you 
about compromises." All the compromise that I 
have to make is the compromise of the Constitu 
tion of the United States. It is one of the best 
compromises that can be made. We lived under 
it from 1789 down to the 20th of December, 1860, 
when South Carolina undertook to go out of the 
Union. We prospered; we advanced in wealth, 


in commerce, in agriculture, in trade, in manufac 
tures, in all the arts and sciences, and in religion, 
more than any people upon the face of God s earth 
had ever done before in the same time. What better 
compromise do you want ? You lived under it un 
til you got to be a great and prosperous people. It 
was made by our fathers, and cemented by their 
blood. When you talk to me about compromise, I 
hold up to you the Constitution under which you 
derived all your greatness, and which was made by 
the fathers of your country. It will protect you in 
all your rights. 

But it is said we had better divide the country, 
and make a treaty and restore peace. If, under 
the Constitution which was framed by Washington 
and Madison and the patriots of the Revolution, 
we cannot live as brothers, as we have in times gone 
by, I ask, can we live quietly under a treaty, sepa 
rated, as enemies ? Suppose you make a treaty of 
peace and a division, our geographical and physical 
position will remain just the same ; and if the same 
causes of irritation, if the same causes of division 
continue to exist, and we cannot now live as broth 
ers in fraternity under the Constitution made by 
our fathers, and as friends in the same Government, 
how can we live in peace as aliens and enemies un 
der a treaty? It cannot be done ; it is impracticable. 

But, Mr. President, I concur fully with the dis 
tinguished Senator from Kentucky in the dislike 
expressed by him to a change in the form of our 


Government. He seemed to be apprehensive of a 
dictatorship. He feared there might be a change in 
the nature and character of our institutions. I could, 
if I chose, refer to many proofs to establish the fact 
that there has been a design to change the nature 
of our Government. I could refer to Mr. Rhett ; 
I could refer to Mr. Inglis ; I could refer to various 
others to prove this. The " Montgomery Daily 
Advertiser," one of the organs of the so-called 
Southern Confederacy, says, 

u Has it been a precipitate revolution? It has not. With 
coolness and deliberation the subject has been thought of for 
forty years ; for ten years it has been the all-absorbing theme 
in political circles. From Maine to Mexico all the different 
phases and forms of the question have been presented to the 
people, until nothing else was thought of, nothing else spoken 
of, and nothing else taught in many of the political schools." 

This, in connection with other things, shows that 
this movement has been long contemplated, and that 
the idea has been to separate from and break up this 
Government, to change its nature and character ; 
and now, after they have attempted the separation, 
if they can succeed, their intention is to subjugate 
and overthrow and make the other States submit to 
their form of government. 

To carry out the idea of the Senator from Ken 
tucky, I want to show that there is conclusive proof 
of a design to change our Government. 

I quote from the " Georgia Chronicle " : 

" Our own republican Government has failed midway in its 
trial, and with it have nearly vanished the hopes of those phi- 


lanthropists who, believing in man s capacity for self-govern 
ment, believed, therefore, in spite of so many failures, in the 
practicability of a republic." 

" If this Government has gone down," asks the 
editor, "what shall be its substitute?" And he 
answers by saving that, as to the present generation, 
" it seems their only resort must be to a constitu 
tional monarchy." Hence you see the Senator and 
myself begin to agree in the proposition that the 
nature and character of the Government are to be 

William Howard Russell, the celebrated cor 
respondent of the "London Times," spent some time 
in South Carolina, and he writes : 

" From all quarters have come to my ears the echoes of the 
same voice ; it may be feigned, but there is no discord in the 
note, and it sounds in wonderful strength and monotony all 
over the country. Shades of George III., of North, of John 
son, of all who contended against the great rebellion which 
tore these colonies from England, can you hear the chorus 
which rings through the State of Marion, Sumter, and Pinck- 
ney, and not clap your ghostly hands in triumph ? That voice 
says, If we could only get one of the royal race of England 
to rule over us, we should be content ! Let there be no mis 
conception on this point. That sentiment, varied in a hundred 
ways, has been repeated to me over and over again. There 
is a general admission that the means to such an end are 
wanting, and that the desire cannot be gratified. But the 
admiration for monarchical institutions on the English model, 
lor privileged classes, and for a landed aristocracy and gentry, 
is undisguised and apparently genuine. With the pride of 
having achieved their independence, is mingled in the South 
Carolinian s heart a strange regret at the result and conse- 


quences, and many are they who would go back to-morrow 
if we could. An intense affection for the British connection, 
a love of British habits and customs, a respect for British sen 
timent, law, authority, order, civilization, and literature, pre 
eminently distinguish the inhabitants of this State," &c. 

This idea was not confined to localities. It was 
extensively prevalent, though policy prompted its 
occasional repudiation. At a meeting of the people 
of Bibb County, Georgia, the proposal of a consti 
tutional monarchy for the Southern States, " as 
recommended by some of the advocates of imme 
diate disunion," was discussed but not concurred 
in." Here is evidence that the public mind had 
been sought to be influenced in that direction ; 
but the people were not prepared for it. Mr. 
Toombs, of Georgia, during the delivery of a 
speech by Mr. A. H. Stephens, before the Legis 
lature of that State, did not hesitate to express a 
preference for the form of the British Government 
over our own. 1 

Not long since some time in the month of 
May I read in the " Richmond Whig," published 
at the place where their government is now oper 
ating, the centre from which they are directing 
their armies which are making war upon this Gov 
ernment, an article in which it is stated that, 
rather than submit to the Administration now in 
power in the city of Washington, they would prefer 
passing under the constitutional reign of the ami- 

1 See The Rebellion Record. 


able Queen of Great Britain. I agree, therefore, 
\vith the Senator from Kentucky, that there is a 
desire to change this Government. We see it 


emanating from every point in the South. Mr. 
Toombs was not willing to wait for the movement 
of the people. Mr. Stephens, in his speech to the 
Legislature of Georgia, preferred the calling of a 
convention ; but Mr. Toombs w r as unwilling to 
wait. Mr. Stephens was unwilling to see any 
violent action in advance of the action of the peo 
ple ; but Mr. Toombs replied, "I will not wait ; 
I will take the sword in my own hand, disregard 
ing the will of the people, even in the shape of a 
convention ; " and history will record that he kept 
his word. He and others had become tired and 
dissatisfied with a government of the people ; they 
have lost confidence in man s capacity for self- 
government ; and, furthermore, they would be will 
ing to form an alliance with Great Britain ; or, if 
Great Britain were slow in forming the alliance, 
with France ; and they know they can succeed 
there, on account of the hate and malignity which 
exist between the two nations. They would be 
willing to pass under the reign of the amiable and 
constitutional Queen of Great Britain ! .Sir, I love 
woman, and woman s reign in the right place ; but 
when we talk about the amiable and accomplished 
Queen of Great Britain, I must say that all our 
women are ladies, all are queens, all are equal to 
Queen Victoria, and many of them greatly her 


superiors. They desire no such thing ; nor do we. 
Hence we see whither this movement is tending. 
It is to a change of government ; in that the Sen 
ator and myself most fully concur. 

The Senator from Kentucky was wonderfully 
alarmed at the idea of a " dictator," and replied 
with as much point as possible to the Senator 
from Oregon, who made the suggestion. But, sir, 
what do we find in the " Richmond Examiner," 
published at the seat of government of the so- 
called Confederate States ? 

" In the late debates of the congress of this Confederacy, 
Mr. Wright of Georgia showed a true appreciation of the 
crisis when he advocated the grant of power to the president 
that would enable him to make immediate defence of Rich 
mond, and to bring the whole force of the Confederacy to bear 
on the affairs of Virginia. It is here that the fate of the Con 
federacy is to be decided ; and the time is too short to permit 
red tape to interfere with public safety. No power in exec 
utive hands can be too great, no discretion too absolute, at 
such moments as these. We need a dictator. Let lawyers 
talk when the world has time to hear them. Now let the 
sword do its work. Usurpations of power by the chief, for 
the preservation of the people from robbers and murderers, will 
be reckoned as genius and patriotism by all sensible men in 
the world now, and by every historian that will judge the 
deed hereafter." 

The articles in their leading papers, the " Whig" 
and the " Examiner," and the speeches of their 
leading men, all show unmistakably that their great 
object is to change the character of the Govern 
ment. Hence we come back to the proposition 


that it is a contest whether the people shall govern 
or not. I have here an article that appeared in 
the " Memphis Bulletin," of my own State, from 
which it appears that under this reign of seces 
sion, this reign of terror, that is destructive of all 
good, and the accomplishment of nothing that is 
right, they have got things beyond their control : 

" In times like these there must be one ruling power to 
which all others must yield. In a multitude of counsellors, 
saith the Book of Books, there is safety ; but nowhere are 
we told, in history or revelation, that there is aught of safety 
in a multitude of rulers. Any rule of action, sometimes 
called the law, is better than a multitude of conflicting, 
irreconcilable statutes. Any one head is better than forty, 
each of which may conceive itself the nonpareil, par excel 
lence, supreme caput * of all civil and military affairs. 

" Let Governor Harris be king, if need be, and Baugh a 

" Let Governor Harris be king, and Baugh a 
despot," says the Bulletin." Who is Baugh ? The 
Mayor of Memphis. The mob " reign of terror " 
gotten up under this doctrine of secession is so 
great that we find that they are appealing to the 
one-man power. They are even willing to make 
the mayor of the city a despot, and Isham G. 
Harris, a little petty Governor of Tennessee, a 
king. He is to be made king over the State that 
contains the bones of the immortal, the illustrious 
Jackson. Isham G. Harris a king ! Or Jeff 
Davis a dictator, and Isham G. Harris one of his 
satraps. He a king over the free and patriotic 


people of Tennessee ! Isham G. Harris to be my 
king. Yes, sir, my king ! I know the man. I 
know his elements. I know the ingredients that 
constitute the compound called Isham G. Harris. 
King Harris to be my master, and the master of 
the people that I have the proud and conscious 
satisfaction of representing on this floor ! Mr. 
President, he should not be my slave. [Applause 
in the galleries.] 

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Order ! A repe 
tition of the offence will compel the Chair to order 
the galleries to be cleared forthwith. The order 
of the Senate must and shall be preserved. No 
demonstrations of applause or of disapprobation will 
be allowed. The Chair hopes not to be compelled 
to resort to the extremity of clearing the galleries 
of the audience. 

Mr. JOHN sox. I was proceeding with this line 
of argument to show that the Senator from Ken 
tucky and myself agree in the general proposition 
that there was a fixed determination to change the 
character and nature of the Government ; and so 
far I think I have succeeded very well. And now, 
when we are looking at the elements of which this 
Southern Confederacy is composed, it may be well 
enough to examine the principles of the elements 
out of which is to be made a government that they 
prefer to this. We have shown, so far as the 
slavery question is concerned, that the whole ques 
tion is settled ; and it is shown to the American 


people and to the world that the people of the 
Southern States have now got no right which they 
said they had lost before they went out of this 
Union ; but, on the contrary, many of their rights 
have been diminished, and oppression and tyranny 
have been inaugurated in their stead. Let me ask 
you, sir, to-day, and let me ask the nation, what 
right has any State in this so-called confederacy 
lost under the Constitution of the United States? 
Let me ask each individual citizen in the United 
States, what right has he lost by the continuance 
of this Government based on the Constitution of the 
United States ? Is there a man North or South, 
East or West, who can put his finger on one single 
privilege, or one single right, of which he has been 
deprived by the Constitution or Union of these 
States ? Can he do it ? Can he see it ? Can he 
feel it ? No, sir ; there is no one right that he has 
lost. But how many rights and privileges, and 
how much protection have they lost by going out 
of the Union, and violating the Constitution of the 
United States! 

Pursuing this line of argument in regard to the 
formation of their government, let us take South 
Carolina, for instance, and see what her notions 
of government are. She is the leading spirit, and 
will constitute one of the master elements in the 
formation of this proposed Confederate Government. 
Let us see what are her notions of government 
a State that will contribute to the formation of the 


government that is to exist hereafter. In the con 
stitution of South Carolina it is provided that 

" No person shall be eligible to a seat in the House of 
Representatives, unless he is a free white man, of the age of 
twenty -one years, and hath been a citizen and resident of this 
State three years previous to his election. If a resident in 
the election district, he shall not be eligible to a seat in the 
House of Representatives, unless he be legally seized and 
possessed, in his own right, of a settled freehold estate of five 
hundred acres of land and ten negroes." 

This is the notion that South Carolina has of 
the necessary qualifications of a member of the 
lower branch of the State Legislature. Now, I 
desire to ask the distinguished Senator from Ken 
tucky who seems to be so tenacious about com 
promises, about rights, and about the settlement 
of this question, and who can discover that the 
Constitution has been violated so often and so 
flagrantly by the Administration now in power, 
yet never can see that it has been violated any 
where else if he desires to seek under this South 
Carolina government for his lost rights? I do 
not intend to be personal. I wish he were in 
his seat, for he knows that I have the greatest 
kindness for him. I am free to say, in connec 
tion with what I am about to observe, that I am 
a little selfish in this ; because if I lived in South 
Carolina, with these disabilities or qualifications 
affixed upon a member, I would not be eligible 
to a seat in the lower branch of the Legislature. 


That would be a poor place for me to go and get 
my rights; would it not? I doubt whether the 
Senator from Kentucky is eligible to-day to a seat 
in the lower branch of the Legislature of South 
Carolina. I should not be, and I believe I am just 
as good as any who do take seats there. 

In looking further into the constitution of South 
Carolina, in order to ascertain what are her prin 
ciples of government, what do we find ? We find 
it provided that, in the apportionment of these 
representatives, the whole number of white in 
habitants is to be divided by sixty-two, and every 
sixty-second part is to have one member. Then 
all the taxes are to be divided by sixty-two, and 
every sixty-second part of the taxes is to have one 
member also. Hence we see that slaves, consti 
tuting the basis of property, would get the largest 
amount of representation ; and we see that prop 
erty goes in an equal representation to all the num 
bers, while those numbers constitute a part of the 
property-holders. That is the basis of their repre 

Sir, the people whom I represent desire no such 
form of government. Notwithstanding they have 
been borne down ; notwithstanding there has been 
an army of fifty-five thousand men created by the 
Legislature ; notwithstanding $5,000,000 of money 
have been appropriated to be expended against the 
Union ; and notwithstanding the arms manufac 
tured by the Government, and distributed among 



the Stat3s for the protection of the people, have 
been denied to them by this little petty tyrant of a 
king, and are now turned upon the Government 
for its overthrow and destruction, those people, 
when left to themselves to carry out their own 
government and the honest dictates of their own 
consciences, will be found to be opposed to this 

Mr. President, while the congress of the Confed 
erate States was engaged in the formation of their 
constitution, I find a protest from South Carolina 
against a decision of that congress in relation to the 

C5 O 

slave-trade published in the " Charleston Mercury," 
of February 13. It is written by L. W. Spratt to 
" Hon. John Perkins, delegate from Louisiana." It 
begins in this way : 

" From the abstract of the constitution for the provisional 
government, published in the papers this morning, it appears 
that the slave-trade, except with the slave States of North 
America, shall be prohibited. The congress, therefore, not 
content with the laws of the late United States against it, 
which, it is to be presumed, were readopted, have unalter 
ably fixed the subject, by a provision of the constitution." 

He goes on and protests. We all know that that 
constitution is made for the day, just for the time 
being, a mere tub thrown out to the whale, to amuse 
and entertain the public mind for a time. We know 
this to be so. But in making his argument, Mr. 
Spratt, a commissioner who went to Florida, a 
member of the convention that took the State of 


South Carolina out of the Union, says, in this pro 
test, -- 

" The South is now in the formation of a slave republic. 
This, perhaps, is not admitted generally. There are many 
contented to believe that the South, as a geographical section, 
i< in mere assertion of its independence ; that it is instinct 
with no especial truth pregnant of no distinct social nature ; 
that for some unaccountable reason the two sections have 
become opposed to each other ; that for reasons equally 
insufficient there is disagreement between the people that 
direct them ; and that from no overruling necessity, no im 
possibility of coexistence, but as mere matter of policy, it has 
been considered best for the South to strike out for herself, 
and establish an independence of her own. This, I fear, 
is an inadequate conception of the controversy." 

This indicates the whole scheme. 

" The contest is not between the North and South as 
geographical sections, for between such sections merely 
there can be no contest ; nor between the people of the 
North and the people of the South, for our relations have 
been pleasant ; and on neutral grounds there is still nothing 
to estrange us. We eat together, trade together, and prac 
tise yet, in intercourse, with great respect, the courtesies 
of common life. But the real contest is between the two 
forms of society which have become established, the one 
at the North, and the other at the South." 

The protest continues : 

" With that perfect economy of resources, that just appli 
cation of power, that concentration of forces, that security 
of order which results to slavery from the permanent direction 
of its best intelligence, there is no other form of human labor 
that can stand against it, and it will build itself a home, and 
erect for itself, at some point within the present limits of the 


Southern States, a structure of imperial power and grandeur 
a glorious confederacy of States that will stand aloft and 
serene for ages amid the anarchy of democracies that will 

reel around it." 

" But it may be that to this end another revolution may be 
necessary. It is to be apprehended that this contest between 
democracy and slavery is not yet over. It is certain that both 
forms of society exist within the limits of the Southern States; 
both are distinctly developed within the limits of Virginia ; 
and there, whether we perceive the fact or not, the war 
already rages. In that State there are about five hundred 
thousand slaves to about one million of whites ; and as at 
least as many slaves as masters are necessary to the consti 
tution of slave society, about five hundred thousand of the 
white population are in legitimate relation to the slaves, 
and the rest are in excess." 

Hence we see the propriety of Mr. Mason s letter, 
in which he declared that all those who would not 
vote for secession must leave the State, and thereby 
you get clear of the excess of white population over 
slaves. They must emigrate. 

" Like an excess of alkali or acid in chemical experiments, 
they are unfixed in the social compound. Without legitimate 
connection with the slave, they are in competition with him." 

The protest continues : 

" And even in this State [South Carolina] the ultimate 
result is not determined. The slave condition here would 
seem to be established. There is here an excess of one hun 
dred and twenty thousand slaves ; and here is fairly exhibited 
the normal nature of the institution. The officers of the 
State are slave-owners, and the representatives of slave-owners. 
In their public acts they exhibit the consciousness of a supe- 


rior position. Without unusual individual ability, they exhibit 
the elevation of tone and composure of public sentiment 
proper to a master class. There is no appeal to the mass, 
for there is no mass to appeal to ; there are no demagogues, 
for there is no populace to breed them ; judges are not forced 
upon the stump ; governors are not to be dragged before the 
people ; and when there is cause to act upon the fortunes of 
our social institution, there is perhaps an unusual readiness 
to meet it." 

Again : 

" It is probable that more abundant pauper labor may pour 
in, and it is to be feared that even in this State, the purest in 
its slave condition, democracy may gain a foothold, and that 
here also the contest for existence may be waged between 

" It thus appears that the contest is not ended with a dis 
solution of the Union, and that the agents of that contest still 
exist within the limits of the Southern States. The causes 
that have contributed to the defeat of slavery still occur ; 
our slaves are still drawn off by higher prices to the West. 
There is still foreign pauper labor ready to supply their place. 
Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, possibly Tennessee 
and North Carolina, may lose their slaves, as New York, 
Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have done. In that condi 
tion they must recommence the contest. There is no avoiding 
that necessity. The systems cannot mix ; and thus it is that 
slavery, like the Thracian horse returning from the field of 
victory, still bears a master on his back ; and, having achieved 
one revolution to escape democracy at the North, it must still 
achieve another to escape it at the South. That it will ulti 
mately triumph none can doubt. It will become redeemed 
and vindicated, and the only question now to be determined 
is, shall there be another revolution to that end ? " 

" If, in short, you shall own slavery as the source of your 


authority, and act for it, and erect, as you are commissioned 
to erect, not only a Southern, but a slave republic, the work 

will be accomplished." 

" But if you shall not ; if you shall commence by ignoring 
slavery, or shall be content to edge it on by indirection ; if 
you shall exhibit care but for the republic, respect but a de 
mocracy ; if you shall stipulate for the toleration of slavery, 
as an existing evil, by admitting assumptions to its prejudice, 
and restrictions to its power and progress, you reinaugurate 
the blunder of 1789; you will combine States, whether true 
or not, to slavery ; you will have no tests of faith ; some will 
find it to their interests to abandon it ; slave labor will be 
fettered ; hireling labor will be free ; your confederacy is 
again divided into antagonistic societies ; the irrepressible 
conflict is again commenced; and as slavery can sustain the 
structure of a stable government, and will sustain such struct 
ure, and as it will sustain no structure but its own, another 
revolution comes ; but whether in the order and propriety 
of this, is gravely to be doubted." 

In another part of this protest I find this par 
agraph : 

" If the clause be carried into the permanent government, 
our whole movement is defeated. It will abolitionize the 
border slave States it will brand our institution. Slavery 
cannot share a government with democracy it cannot 
bear a brand upon it; thence another revolution. It may 
be painful, but we must make it. The constitution can 
not be changed without. The border States, discharged of 
slavery, will oppose it. They are to be included by the 
concession ; they will be sufficient to defeat it. It is doubt 
ful if another movement will be as peaceful." l 

In this connection, let me read the following 
paragraph from De Bow s " Review " : 

1 See The Rebellion Record. 


" AH government begins with usurpation, and is continued 
by force. Nature puts the ruling elements uppermost, and 
the masses below and subject to those elements. Less than, 
this is not government. The right to govern resides in a 
very small minority, the duty to obey is inherent in the 
great mass of mankind." 

We find by an examination of all these articles, 
that the whole idea is to establish a republic based 
upon slavery exclusively, in which the great mass 
of the people are not to participate. We find an 
argument made here against the admission of non- 
slaveholding States into their Confederacy. If they 
refuse to admit a non-slaveholding State into the 
Confederacy, for the very same reason they will ex 
clude an individual who is not a slaveholder, in a 
slaveholding State, from participating in the exercise 
of the powers of the Government. Take the whole 
argument through, and that is the plain meaning of 
it. Mr. Spratt says, that sooner or later it will be 
done ; and if the present revolution will not accom 
plish it, it must be brought about even if another 
revolution has to take place. We see, therefore, 
that it is most clearly contemplated to change the 
character and nature of the Government so far as 
they are concerned. They have lost confidence in 
the integrity, in the capability, in the virtue and in 
telligence of the great mass of the people to govern. 
Sir, in the section of the country where I live, not 
withstanding we reside in a slave State, we believe 
that freemen are capable of self-government. We 
care not in what shape their property exists ; whether 


it is in the shape of slaves or otherwise. We hold 
that it is upon the intelligent free white people of 
the country that all Governments should rest, and 
by them all Governments should be controlled. 

I think, therefore, sir, that the President and the 
Senator from Kentucky have stated the question 
aright. This is a struggle between two forms of 
government. It is a struggle for the existence of 
the Government we have. The issue is now fairly 
made up. All who favor free government must 
stand with the Constitution, and in favor of the 
Union of the States as it is. That Union beino; once 


restored, the Constitution again becoming supreme 
and paramount, when peace, law, and order shall 
be restored, when the Government shall be restored 
to its pristine position, then, if necessary, we can 
come forward under proper and favorable circum 
stances to amend, change, alter, and modify the Con 
stitution, as pointed out by the fifth article of the 
instrument, and thereby perpetuate the Govern 
ment. This can be done, and this should be done. 
We have heard a great deal said in reference to 
the violation of the Constitution. The Senator 
from Kentucky seems exceedingly sensitive about 
violations of the Constitution. Sir, it seems to 
me, admitting that his apprehensions are well 
founded, that a violation of the Constitution for the 
preservation of the Government, is more tolerable 
than one for its destruction. In all these complaints, 
in all these arraignments of the present Government 


for violation of law and disregard of the Constitu 
tion, have you heard, as was forcibly and eloquently 
said by the Senator from Illinois, 1 before me, one 
word uttered against violations of the Constitution 


and the trampling under foot of law by the States, 
or the party, now making war upon the Govern 
ment of the United States ? Not one word, sir. 

The Senator enumerates what he calls violations 
of the Constitution, the suspension of the writ of 
habeas corpus, the proclaiming of martial law, the 
increase of the Army and Navy, and the existing 
war; and then he asks, "Why all this?" The 
answer must be apparent to all. 

But first, let me supply a chronological table of 
events on the other side. 

1860. December 27. Fort Moultrie and Castle 
Pinckney, at Charleston, seized. 

December 27. The revenue - cutter William 
Aiken surrendered by her commander, and taken 
possession of by South Carolina. 

December 30. The United States arsenal at 
Charleston seized. 

1861. January 2. Fort Macon and the United 
States arsenal at Fayetteville seized by North 

January 3. Forts Pulaski and Jackson, and 
the United States arsenal at Savannah, seized by 
Georgia troops. 

January 4. Fort Morgan and the United States 
arsenal at Mobile seized by Alabama. 

1 Mr. Browning. 


January 8. Forts Johnson and Caswell, at Smith- 
ville, seized by North Carolina ; restored by order 
of Governor Ellis. 

January 9. The Star of the West, bearing rein 
forcements for Major Anderson, fired at in Charles 
ton harbor. 

January 12. Fort McRae, at Pensacola, seized by 

January 10. The steamer Marion seized by South 
Carolina ; restored on the llth. 

January 11. The United States arsenal at Baton 
Rouge, and Forts Pike, St. Philip, and Jackson, 
seized by Louisiana. 

January 12. Fort Barrancas and the navy -yard 
at Pensacola seized by Florida. 

These forts cost 15,947,000, are pierced for one 
thousand and ninety-nine guns, and are adapted for 
a war garrison of five thousand four hundred and 
thirty men. 

We find, as was shown here the other day, and as 
has been shown on former occasions, that the State 
of South Carolina seceded, or attempted to secede 
from this Confederacv of States without cause. In 
seceding, her first step was a violation of the Con 
stitution. She seceded on the 20th of last December, 
making the first innovation and violation of the law 
and the Constitution of the country. On the 27th 
day of December what did she do ? She seized Fort 
Moultrie and Castle Pinckney, and caused your little 
band of sixty or seventy men under the command 


of Major Anderson to retire to a little pen in the 
ocean Fort Sumter. She commenced erecting 
batteries, arraying cannon, preparing for war ; in 
effect, proclaiming herself at once our enemy. Seced 
ing from the Union, taking Fort Moultrie and Castle 
Pinckney, driving your men in fact into Fort Sumter, 
I say were practical acts of war. You need not talk 
to me about technicalities, and the distinction that 
you have got no war until Congress declares it. Con 
gress could legalize it, or could make war, it is true ; 
but that was practical war. Who began it ? Then, 
sir, if South Carolina secedes, withdraws from the 
Union, becomes our common enemy, is it not the 
duty, the constitutional duty of the Government and 
of the President of the United States to make war, 
or to resist the attacks and assaults made by an 
enemy ? Is she not as much our enemy as Great 
Britain was in the Revolutionary struggle ? Is she 
not to-day as much our enemy as Great Britain was 
during the war of 1812 ? 

In this connection I desire to read some remarks 
made by the Senator from Missouri 1 in his speech 
the other day, in regard to this general idea of who 
made the war. He said, speaking of the war, 

" This has all been brought about since the adjournment of 
the last Congress since the 4th of March ; indeed, since the 
15th of April. Congress has declared no war. The Con 
stitution of the United States says that Congress shall be 
authorized to declare war; and yet, sir, though Congress 

i Mr. Polk. 


has declared no war, we are in the midst of a war monstrous 
in its character, and hugely monstrous in its proportions. 
That war has been brought on by the President of the United 
States since the 4th of March, of his own motion, and of his 
own wrong ; and under what circumstances ? Before the 
close of the last Congress, as early as the month of January, 
secession was an accomplished fact. Before the close of the 
last Congress, as many States had seceded from the Union, 
or had claimed to secede, as had on the 15th of April; and 
yet the last Congress made no declaration of war ; the last 
Congress passed no legislation calculated to carry on a war ; 
the last Congress refused to pass bills having this direction, 
or having any purpose of coercion. Now, sir, how has this 
war been brought on ? I have said that, in my judg 
ment, it has been brought on by the President of the United 
States ; and a portion of the procedure which has resulted 
in it is named in the preamble of this joint resolution, which 
it is proposed that we shall approve and legalize." 

The Senator from Kentucky 1 spoke in similar 
language. Alluding to the refusal of Kentucky to 
respond to the first call of the President for seventy- 
five thousand men, he said, 

" She believed that the calling forth of such an immense 
armament was for the purpose of making a war of subjuga 
tion on the Southern States, and upon that ground she refused 
to furnish the regiments called for. The Senator seems to be 
a little offended at the neutrality of Kentucky. Sir, Ken 
tucky has assumed a position of neutrality, and I only hope 
that she may be able to maintain it. She has assumed that 
position because there is no impulse of her patriotic heart 
that desires her to imbrue her hands in a brother s blood, 
whether he be from the North or the South. Kentucky looks 
upon this war as unholy, unrighteous, and unjust. Kentucky 

i Mr. Powell. 


believes that this war, if carried out, can result in nothing 
else than a final disruption of this Confederacy. She hopes, 
she wishes, she prays, that this Union may be maintained. 
She believes that cannot be done by force of arms ; that it 
must be done by compromise and conciliation, if it can be 
done at all; and hence, being devoted truly to the Union, she 
desires to stay this war, and desires measures of peace to be 
presented for the adjustment of our difficulties." 

I desire in this connection to place before the 
Senate the remarks of both the Senators from Ken 
tucky and the Senator from Missouri, and to answer 
them at the same time. The Senator from Missouri 
says the war was brought on since the 4th of March 
by the President of the United States of his own 
motion. The Senator from Kentucky pronounces 
it an unjust, an unrighteous, and an unholy war. 
Sir, I think it is an unjust, an unrighteous, and an 
unholy war. 

But, sir, I commenced enumerating the facts 
with the view of showing who commenced the war. 
How do they stand ? I have just stated that South 
Carolina seceded withdrew from the Confeder 
acy; and in the very act of withdrawing, she makes 
practical war upon the Government, and becomes 
its enemy. The Star of the West, on the 7th of 
January, laden simply with provisions to supply 
those starving men in Fort Sumter, attempted to 
enter the harbor, and was fired upon, and had to 
tack about, and leave the men in the forts to perish 
or do the best they could. We also find, that on 
the llth of April General Beauregard had an inter- 



view with Major Anderson, and made a proposition 
to him to surrender. Major Anderson stated, in 
substance, that he could do no such thing ; that he 
could not strike the colors of his country, and re 
fused to surrender ; but he said, at the same time, 
that by the 15th of the month his provisions would 
give out, and if not reinforced and supplied, star 
vation must take place. It seems that at this time, 
Mr. Pry or, from Virginia, was in Charleston. The 
convention of Virginia was sitting, and it was im 
portant that the cannon s roar should be heard in 
the land. Virginia was to be taken out of the 
Union, although a majority of the delegates in the 
convention were elected against secession, and in 
favor of the Union. We find that after being in 
possession of the fact that by the 15th of the month 
the garrison would be starved out and compelled to 
surrender, on the morning of the 12th they com 
menced the bombardment, fired upon your fort and 
upon your men. They knew that in three days 
the troops in Fort Sumter would be compelled to 
surrender ; but they wanted war. It was indispen 
sable to produce an excitement in order to hurry 
Virginia out of the Union, and they commenced 
the war. The firing was kept up until such time 
as the fort was involved in smoke and flames, and 
Major Anderson and his men were compelled to 
lie on the floor with their wet handkerchiefs to their 
faces to save them from suffocation and death. 
Even in the midst of all this, they refused to cease 


their firing, but kept it up until he was compelled 
to surrender. 

Who then commenced the war? Who struck 
the first blow ? Who violated the Constitution 
in the first place ? Who trampled the law under 
foot, and violated the law morally and legally ? 
Was it not South Carolina, in seceding? And yet 
you talk about the President having brought on 
the war by his own motion, when these facts are 
incontrovertible. No one dare attempt to assail 
them. But after Fort Sumter was attacked and 
surrendered, what do we find stated in Montgom 
ery when the news reached there ? Here is the 
telegraphic announcement of the reception of the 
news there : 

"MONTGOMERY, Friday, April 12, 1861. 
" An immense crowd serenaded President Davis and Sec 
retary Walker, at the Exchange Hotel, to-night." 

Mr. Davis refused to address the audience, but 
his Secretary of War did. The Secretary of War, 
Mr. Walker, said, 

" No man could tell where the war this day commenced 
would end, but he would prophesy that the flag which now 
flaunts the breeze here would float over the dome of the Old 
Capitol at Washington, before the 1st of May. Let them try 
Southern chivalry and test the extent of Southern resources, 
and it might float eventually over Faneuil Hall itself." 

What is the announcement ? We have attacked 
Fort Sumter, and it has surrendered, and no one 
can tell where this war will end. By the first of 


May our flag will wave in triumph from the dome 
of the Old Capitol at Washington, and ere long 
perhaps from Faneuil Hall in Boston. Then, was 
this war commenced by the President on his own 
motion ? You say the President of the United 
States did wrong in ordering out seventy-five thou 
sand men, and in increasing the Army and Navy 
under the exigency. Do we not know, in connec 
tion with these facts, that so soon as Fort Sumter 
surrendered they took up the line of march for 
Washington ? Do not some of us who were here 
know that we did not even go to bed very confi 
dently and securely, for fear the city would be taken 
before the rising sun ? Has it not been published 
in the Southern newspapers that Ben McCulloch 
was in readiness, with five thousand picked men, in 
the State of Virginia, to make a descent and at 
tack the city, and take it ? 

What more do we find ? We find that the 
Congress of this same pseudo-republic, this same 
Southern Confederacy that has sprung up in the 
South, as early as the 6th of March passed a law 
preparing for this invasion preparing for this 
war which they commenced. Here it is : 

" That in order to provide speedily forces to repel invasion, 
maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States of 
America in every portion of territory belonging to each State, 
and to secure the public tranquillity and independence against 
threatened assault, the President be, and he is hereby, au 
thorized to employ the militia, military, and naval forces of 


the Confederate States of America, and ask for and accept 
the services of any number of volunteers, not exceeding one 
hundred thousand." 

When your forts were surrendered, and when 
the President of the so-called Southern Confeder 
acy was authorized to call out the entire militia, 
naval, and military force, and then to receive into 
the service of the Confederate States one hundred 
thousand men, the President calls for seventy-five 
thousand men to defend the capital and the public 
property. Are we for the Government, or are we 
against it ? That is the question. Taking all the 
facts into consideration, do we not see that an 
invasion was intended ? It was even announced 
by Mr. Iverson upon this floor that ere long their 
Congress would be sitting here and this Govern 
ment would be overthrown. When the facts are 
all put together we see the scheme, and it is noth 
ing more nor less than executing a programme 
deliberately made out ; and yet Senators hesitate, 
falter, and complain, and say the President has 
suspended the writ of habeas corpus, increased the 
Army and Navy, and they ask, where was the ne 
cessity for all this? With your forts taken, your 
men fired upon, your ships attacked at sea, and one 
hundred thousand men called into the field by this 
so-called Southern Confederacy, with the additional 
authority to call out the entire military and naval 
force of those States, Senators talk about the enor 
mous call of the President for seventy-five thousand 



men, and the increase he has made of the Army 
and Navy. Mr. President, it all goes to show, in 
my opinion, that the sympathies of Senators are 
with the one government and against the other. 
Admitting that there was a little stretch of power ; 
admitting that the margin was pretty wide when 
the power was exercised, the query now comes, 
when you have got the power, when you are sitting 
here in a legislative attitude, are you willing to 
sustain the Government and give it the means 
to sustain itself? It is not worth while to talk 
about what has been done before. The question 
on any measure should be, is it necessary now ? 
If it is, it should not be withheld from the Gov 

Senators talk about violating the Constitution 
and the laws. A great deal has been said about 
searches and seizures, and the right of protection 
of persons and of papers. I reckon it is equally 
as important to protect a Government from seizure 
as it is an individual. I reckon the morality and 
the law of the case would be just as strong in 
seizing upon that which belonged to the Federal 
Government as it would upon that belonging to an 
individual. What belongs to us in the afforegate 

O cT O c? 

is protected and maintained by the same law, moral 
and legal, as that which applies to an individual. 
These rebellious States, after commencing this war, 
after violating the Constitution, seized our forts, 
r^r arsenals, our dock-yards, our custom-houses, 


our public buildings, our ships, and last, though 
not least, plundered the independent treasury at 
New Orleans of 81,000,000. And yet Senators 
talk about violations of the law and the Constitu 
tion. They say the Constitution is disregarded, 
and the Government is about to be overthrown. 
Does not this talk about violations of the Consti 
tution and law come with a beautiful grace from 
that side of the House ? I repeat again, sir, are 
not violations of the Constitution necessary for its 
protection and vindication more tolerable, than 
violations of that sacred instrument aimed at the 
overthrow and destruction of the Government. 
We have seen instances, and other instances might 
occur, where it might be indispensably necessary 
for the Government to exercise a power and to 
assume a position that was not clearly legal and 
constitutional, in order to resist the entire over 
throw and upturning of the Government and all 
our institutions. 

But the President issued his proclamation. When 
did he issue it, and for what ? He issued his proc 
lamation calling out seventy-five thousand men 
after the Congress of the so-called Southern Con 
federacy had passed a law to call out the entire 
militia, and to receive into their service one hundred 
thousand men. The President issued his proclama 
tion after they had taken Fort Moultrie and Castle 
Pinckney ; after they had fired upon and reduced 
Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter was taken on the 12th, 


and on the 15th he issued his proclamation. Taking 
all these circumstances together, it showed that they 
intended to advance, and that their object was to 
extend their power, to subjugate the other States, 
and to overthrow the Constitution and the laws 
and the Government. 

Senators talk about violations of the Constitution. 
Have you heard any intimation of complaint from 
those Senators about this Southern Confederacy 
this band of traitors to their country and their 
country s institutions ? I repeat, substantially, the 
language of the Senator from Illinois, 1 " Have you 
heard any complaint or alarm about violations of 
constitutional law on that side ? Oh, no ! But we 
must stand still ; the Government must not move 
while they are moving with a hundred thousand 
men ; while they have the power to call forth the 
entire militia and the army and the navy. While 
they are reducing our forts, and robbing us of our 
property, we must stand still ; the Constitution and 
the laws must not be violated ; and an arraignment 
is made to weaken and paralyze the Government in 
its greatest peril and trial." 

On the 15th of April the proclamation was issued 
calling out seventy-five thousand men, after the Con 
federate States had authorized one hundred thousand 
men to be received by their President, this man 
Davis, who stood up here and made a retiring speech, 
a man educated and nurtured by the Government ; 

1 Mr. Browning. 


who sucked its pap ; who received all his military 
instruction at the hands of this Government ; a man 
who got all his distinction, civil and military, in the 
service of this Government, beneath the Stars and 
Stripes, and then, without cause, without being 
deprived of a single right or privilege, the sword 
he unsheathed in vindication of that flag in a foreign 
land, given to him by the hand of his cherishing 
mother, he stands this day prepared to plunge into 
her bosom ! Such men as these have their apologists 
here in Congress, to excuse and extenuate their acts, 
either directly or indirectly. You never hear from 
them of law or Constitution being violated down 
there. Oh, no ; that is not mentioned. 

On the loth the President issued his proclama 
tion calling seventy-five thousand men into the ser 
vice of the United States, and on the 17th this same 
Jefferson Davis, President of the Southern Con 
federacy, in retaliation for the proclamation issued 
by the President of the United States, and in viola 
tion of the constitution of this pseudo-confederacy, 
issued his proclamation proposing to issue letters of 
marque and reprisal. In other words, he proposed 
to open an office and say, we will give out licenses 
to rob the citizens of the United States of all their 
property, wherever it can be picked up upon the high 
seas. This he proposed to do not only in violation 
of the constitution of the Confederate States, but in 
violation of the law of nations; for no people I 
care not by what name you call it has a right to 


issue letters of marque and reprisal until its inde 
pendence is first acknowledged as a separate and dis 
tinct power. Has that been done ? I think, there 
fore, Senators can find some little violation of consti 
tution and law down there among themselves. Sir, 
they have violated the law and the Constitution 
every step they progressed in going there, and now 
they violate it in trying to come this way. There 
was a general license offered, a premium to every 
freebooter, to every man who wanted to plunder and 
play the pirate on the high seas, to come and take a 
commission, and plunder in the name of the Southern 
Confederacy ; to take, at that time, the property of 
Tennessee or the property of Kentucky, your beef, 
your pork, your flour, and every other product mak 
ing its way to a foreign market. Mr. Davis author 
ized letters of marque and reprisal to pick them up 
and appropriate them. After that, their Congress 
saw that he had gone ahead of their constitution and 
the law of nations, and they passed a law modifying 
the issuance of letters of marque and reprisal, that 
they should prey upon the property of the citizens 
of the United States, excepting certain States, ex 
cepting Kentucky and Tennessee, holding that 
out as a bait, as an inducement to get them in. 

I do not think, therefore, when we approach the 
subject fairly and squarely, that there was any very 
great wrong in the President of the United States, on 
the 19th, issuing his proclamation blockading their 
ports, saying you shall not have the opportunity, so far 


as I can prevent it, of plundering and appropriating 
other people s property on the high seas. I think 
he did precisely what was right. He would have 
been derelict to his duty, and to the high behest of 
the American people, if he had sat here and failed 
to exert every power within his reach and scope to 
protect the property of citizens of the United States 
on the high seas. 

Senators seem to think it is no A r iolation of the 
Constitution to make war on your Government ; 
and when its enemies are stationed in si flit of the 


capital, there is no alarm, no dread, no scare, no 
fright. Some of us would not feel so very comfort 
able if they were to get this city. I believe there 
are others who would not be very much disturbed. 
I do not think I could sleep right sound if they were 
in possession of this city ; not that I believe I am 
more timid than most men, but I do not believe 
there would be much quarter for me ; and, by way 
of self-protection, and enjoying what few rights I 
have remaining, I expect it would be better, if they 
were in possession of this city, for me to be located 
in some other point, not too inconvenient or too re 
mote. I believe there are others who would feel 
very comfortable here. 

Then, Mr. President, in tracing this subject 
along, I cannot see what great wrong has been com 
mitted by the Government in taking the course it 
has taken. I repeat again, this Government is now 
passing through its third ordeal ; and the time has 


arrived when it should put forth its entire power, 
and say to rebels and traitors wherever they are, 
that the supremacy of the Constitution, and laws 
made in pursuance thereof, shall be sustained ; that 
those citizens who have been borne down and tyran 
nized over, and who have had laws of treason passed 
against them in their own States, and who have been 
threatened with confiscation of property, shall be pro 
tected. I say it is the paramount duty of this Gov 
ernment to assert its power and maintain its integ 
rity. I say it is the duty of this Government to 
protect those States, or the loyal citizens of those 
States, in the enjoyment of a republican form of gov 
ernment ; for we have seen one continued system of 
usurpation carried on, from one end of the Southern 
States to the other ; disregarding the popular will, 
setting at defiance the judgment of the people, dis 
regarding their rights, paying no attention to their 
State constitutions in any way whatever. We are 
bound, under the Constitution, to protect those 
States and their citizens. We are bound to guaran 
tee to them a republican form of government ; it is 
our duty to do it. If we have no Government, let 
the delusion be dispelled ; let the dream pass away ; 
and let the people of the United States, and the na 
tions of the earth, know at once that we have no 
Government. If we have a Government, based on 
the intelligence and virtue of the American people, 
let that great fact be now established, and once 
established, this Government will be on a more 


enduring and permanent basis than it ever was be 
fore. I still have confidence in the integrity, the 
virtue, the intelligence, and the patriotism of the 
great mass of the people ; and so believing, I in 
tend to stand by the Government of my fathers to 
the last extremity. 

In the last presidential contest I am free to say 
that I took some part. I advocated the pretensions 
and claims of one of the distinguished sons of Ken 
tucky, as a Democrat. I am a Democrat to-day ; I 
expect to die one. My Democracy rests upon the 
great principle I have stated ; and in the support of 
measures, I have always tried to be guided by a 
conscientious conviction of right; and I have laid 
down for myself as a rule of action, in all doubtful 
questions, to pursue principle ; and in the pursuit of 
a great principle I can never reach a wrong conclu 
sion. I intend, in this case, to pursue principle. I 
am a Democrat, believing the principles of this Gov 
ernment are Democratic. It is based upon the 
Democratic theory. I believe Democracy can stand, 
notwithstanding all the taunts and jeers that are 
thrown at it throughout the Southern Confederacy. 
The principles which I call Democracy I care not 
by whom they are sustained, whether by Republi 
cans, by Whigs, or not are the great principles 
that lie at the foundation of this Government, and 
they will be maintained. We have seen that so far 
the experiment has succeeded well ; and now we 
should make an effort, in this last ordeal through 



which we are passing, to crush out the fatal doc 
trine of secession and those who are upholding it in 
the shape of rebels and traitors. 

I advocated the professions of a distinguished son 
of Kentucky at the late election, for the reason that 
I believed he was a better Union man than any 
other candidate in the field. Others advocated the 
claims of Mr. Bell, believing him to be a bettei 
Union man ; others those of Mr. Douglas. In the? 
South we know that there was no Republican ticket. 
I was a Union man then ; I was a Union man in 
1833 ; I am a Union man now. And what has 
transpired since the election in November last that 
has produced sufficient cause to break up this Gov 
ernment? The Senator from California enumer 
ated the facts up to the 25th day of May, 1860, 
when there was a vote taken in this body declar 
ing that further legislation was not necessary for 
the protection of slave property in the Territories. 
Now, from the 6th of November up to the 20th of 
December, tell me what transpired of sufficient 
cause to break up this Government ? Was there 
any innovation, was there any additional step taken 
in reference to the rights of the States or the insti 
tution of slavery ? If the candidate whose claims 1 
advocated had been elected President, I speak of 
him as a candidate, of course not meaning to be per 
sonal, I do not believe this Government would 
have been broken up. If Stephen A. Douglas had 
been elected, I do not believe this Government 


would have been broken up. Why ? Because 
those who advocated the pretensions of Mr. Lincoln 
would have done as all parties have done heretofore: 
they would have yielded to the high behest of the 
American people. 

Then, is the mere defeat of one man, and the elec 
tion of another, according to the forms of law and 
the Constitution, sufficient cause to break up this 
Government ? No ; it is not sufficient cause. Do 
we not know, too, that if all the seceding Senators 
had stood here as faithful sentinels, representing the 
interests of their States, they had it in their power 
to check any advance that might be made by the 
incoming Administration ? I showed these facts, and 
enumerated them at the last session. They were 
shown here the other day. On the 4th of March, 
when President Lincoln was inaugurated, we had a 
majority of six upon this floor in opposition to his 
Administration. Where, then, is there even a pre 
text for breaking up the Government upon the idea 
that he would have encroached upon our rights ? 
Does not the nation know that Mr. Lincoln could 
not have made his Cabinet without the consent of 
the majority of the Senate ? Do we not know that 
he could not even have sent a minister abroad with 
out the majority of the Senate confirming the nomi 
nation? Do we not know that if any minister whom 
he sent abroad should make a treaty inimical to the 
institutions of the South, that treaty could not have 
been ratified without a majority of two thirds of the 


With all these facts staring them in the face, 
where is the pretence for breaking up this Govern 
ment ? Is it not clear that there has been a fixed 
purpose, a settled design to break up the Govern 
ment, and change the nature and character and 
whole genius of the Government itself? Does it 
not prove conclusively, as there was no cause, that 
they simply selected it as an occasion that was favor 
able to excite the prejudices of the South, and there 
by enable them to break up this Government and 
establish a Southern confederacy ? 

Then when we get at it, what is the real cause ? 
If Mr. Breckinridge, or Mr. Davis, or some other 
favorite of those who are now engaged in break 
ing up the Government, had been elected President 
of the United States, it would have been a very 
nice thing; they would have respected the judgment 
of the people, and no doubt their confidence in the 
capacity of the people for self-government would 
have been increased ; but it so happened that the 
people thought proper to elect somebody else, ac 
cording to law and the Constitution. Then, as 
all parties had done heretofore, it was the duty of the 
whole people to acquiesce ; if he made a good Pres 
ident, to sustain him ; if he became a bad one, to 
condemn him ; if he violated the law and the Con 
stitution, to impeach him. We had our remedy 
under the Constitution and in the Union. 

What is the real cause ? Disappointed ambition ; 
an unhallowed ambition. Certain men could not 


wait any longer, and they seized this occasion to do 
what they had been wanting to do for a long time 
to break up the Government. If they could not rule 
a large country, they thought they might rule a 
small one. Hence one of the prime movers in the 
Senate ceased to be a Senator, and passed out to be 
President of the Southern Confederacy. Another, 
who was bold enough on this floor to proclaim him 
self a rebel, retired as a Senator, and became Sec 
retary of State. All perfectly disinterested, no am 
bition about it ! Another, Mr. Benjamin of Lou 
isiana, one who understands something about the 
idea of dividing garments ; who belongs to the tribe 
that parted the garments of our Saviour, and upon 
his vesture cast lots, went out of this body and 
was made Attorney-General, to show his patriotism 
and disinterestedness nothing else ! Mr. Slidell, 
disinterested altogether, is to go as minister to 
France. I might enumerate many such instances. 
This is all patriotism, pure disinterestedness ! Do 
we not see where it all begins ? In disappointed, 
impatient, unhallowed ambition. There has been 
no cause for breaking up this Government ; there 
have been no rights denied, no privileges trampled 
upon under the Constitution and Union, that 
might not have been remedied more effectually in 
the Union than outside of it. What rights are to 
be attained outside of the Union ? The seceders 
have violated the Constitution, trampled it under 
foot ; and what is their condition now ? Upon the 



abstract idea that they had a right to secede, they 
have gone out ; and what is the consequence ? Op 
pression, taxation, blood, and civil war. They have 
gone out of the Union ; and, I repeat again, they 
have got taxes, usurpations, blood, and civil war. 

I said just now that I had advocated the election 
to the Presidency of the distinguished Senator from 
Kentucky, on the ground that he was a good Union 
man. I wish we could now hear his eloquent voice 
in favor of the old Government of our fathers, and 
in vindication of the Stars and Stripes, that have been 
borne in triumph everywhere. I hold in my hand 
a document which was our text-book in the cam 
paign. It is headed " Breckinridge and Lane Cam 
paign ..Document No. 16. Who are the disunion- 
ists ? Breckinridge and Lane the true Union can 
didates." It contains an extract which I w r ill read 
from the Senator s address on the removal of the 
Senate from the old to the new Chamber. I would 
to God he was as good a Union man to-day as I 
think he was then : 

" Such is our country ; ay, and more far more than my 
mind could conceive or my tongue could utter. Is there an 
American who regrets the past ? Is there one who will deride 
his country s laws, pervert her Constitution, or alienate her 
people ? If there be such a man, let his memory descend to 
posterity laden with the execrations of all mankind." ..... 
" Let us devoutly trust that another Senate, in another age, 
shall bear to a new and larger Chamber this Constitution, 
vigorous and inviolate, and that the last generation of pos 
terity shall witness the deliberations of the Representatives 
of American States, still united, prosperous, and free." 


Now tliis was the text an extract from a speech 
of the Senator, after the nomination was made : 

" When that convention selected me as one of its candi 
dates, looking at my humble antecedents and the place of my 
habitation, it gave to the country, so far as I was concerned, 
a personal and geographical guaranty that its interest was in 
the Union." 

In addition to that, in Tennessee we headed our 
electoral ticket as if to give unmistakable evidence 
of our devotion to the Union, and the reason why 
we sustained him, " National Democratic Ticket. 
Instead of dissolving the Union, we intend to 
lengthen it and to strengthen it. Brecldnridge" 
Where are his eloquent tones now ? They are 
heard arraigning the Administration for what he 
conceives to be premature action, in advance of the 
law, or a slight departure from the Constitution. 
Which is the most tolerable, premature action, ac 
tion in advance of law, a slight departure from the 
Constitution, (putting it on his own ground,) or an 
entire overthrow of the Government? Are there 
no advances, are there no inroads, being made to 
day upon the Constitution and the existence of the 
Government itself? Let us look at the question 
plainly and fairly. Here is an invading army al 
most within cannon-shot of the capital, headed by 
Jeff Davis and Beauregard. Suppose they advance 
on the city to-night ; subjugate it ; depose the exist 
ing authorities ; expel the present Government : 
what kind of government have you then ? Is there 


any Constitution in it ? Is there any law in it ? 
The Senator can stand here almost in sight of the 
enemy, see the citadel of freedom, the Constitution, 
trampled upon, and there is no apprehension ; but 
he can look with an eagle eye, and, with an analytic 
process almost unsurpassed, discriminate against and 
attack those who are trying to manage your Gov 
ernment for its safety and preservation. He has no 
word of condemnation for the invading army that 
threatens to overthrow the capital, that threatens to 
trample the Constitution and the law under foot. I 
repeat, suppose Davis, at the head of his advancing 
columns, should depose your Government and expel 
your authority : what kind of government will you 
have? Will there be any Constitution left? How 
eloquent my friend was upon constitutions. He 
told us the Constitution was the measure of power, 
and that we should understand and feel constitu 
tional restraints ; and yet when your Government is 
perhaps within a few hours of being overthrown, 
and the law and Constitution trampled under foot, 
there are no apprehensions on his part; no words of 
rebuke for those who are endeavoring to accomplish 
such results. 

The Old Dominion has got the brunt of the war 
upon her hands. I sympathize with her most deep 
ly, and especially with the loyal portion of her citi 
zens, who have been browbeaten and domineered 
over. Now the war is transferred to Virginia, and 
her plains are made to run with blood ; and when 


this is secured, what do we hear in the far South ? 
Howell Cobb, another of these disinterested patri 
ots, said not long since, in a speech in Georgia : 

" The people of the Gulf States need have no apprehen 
sions ; they might go on with their planting and their other 
business as usual ; the war would not come to their section ; 
its theatre would be along the border of the Ohio River and 
in Virginia." 

Virginia ought to congratulate herself upon that 
position, for she has got the war. Now they want 
to advance. Their plans and designs are to get 
across into Maryland, and carry on a war of subju 
gation. There is wonderful alarm among certain 
gentlemen here at the term u subjugate." They 
are alarmed at the idea of making citizens who 
have violated the law simply conform to it by en 
forcing .their obedience. If a majority of the citi 
zens in a State have violated the Constitution, have 
trampled it under foot, and violated the law, is it 
subjugation to assert the supremacy of the Constitu 
tion and the law ? Is it any more than a simple 
enforcement of the law ? It would be one of the 
best subjugations that could take place if some of 
them Avere subjugated, and brought back to the 
constitutional position that they occupied before. 
I would to God that Tennessee stood to-day where 
she did three months ago. 

Mr. President, it is provided in the Constitution 
of the United States that " no State shall, with 
out the consent of Congress, lay any duty of ton- 


nage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, 
enter into any agreement or compact with another 
State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in war 
unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger 
as will not admit of delay." The State authori 
ties of Tennessee, before her people had even voted 
upon an ordinance to separate her from the Union, 
formed a league by which they transferred fifty- 
five thousand men, the whole army, over to the 
Confederate States for the purpose of prosecuting 
their war. Is it not strange that such a palpable 
violation of the Constitution should not be referred 
to and condemned by any one ? Here is a member 
of the Union, without even having the vote taken 
upon an ordinance of separation or secession, form 
ing a league, by its commissioners or ministers, and 
handing over fifty-five thousand men to make war 
upon the Government of the United States, though 
they were themselves then within the Union. No 
one seems to find fault with that. The fact is, that, 
in the whole progress of secession, the Constitution 
and the law have been violated at every step from 
its incipiency to the present point. How have the 
people of my State been treated ? I know that this 
may not interest the Senate to any very great ex 
tent ; but I must briefly refer to it. The people of 
a portion of that State, having devotion and attach 
ment to the Constitution and the Government as 
framed by the sires of the Revolution, still adhering 
to it, gave a majority of more than twenty thousand 


rotes in favor of the Union at the election. After 
that, this portion of the State, East Tennessee, 
called a convention, and the convention published 
an address, in which they sum up some of the 
grievances which we have been bearing in that por 
tion of the country. They say : 

" The Memphis Appeal, a prominent disunion paper, pub 
lished a false account of our proceedings, under the head * The 
Traitors in Council, and styled us, who represented every 
county but two in East Tennessee, the little batch of dis 
affected traitors who hover around the noxious atmosphere of 
Andrew Johnson s home. Our meeting was telegraphed to 
the New Orleans Delta, and it was falsely said that we had 
passed a resolution recommending submission if seventy thou 
sand votes were not east against secession. The despatch 
added that the Southern-Rights men are determined to hold 
possession of the State, though they should be in a minority." 

They had fifty-five thousand men and $5,000,000 
to sustain them, the State authorities with them, 
and made the declaration that they intended to 
hold the State though they should be in a minor 
ity. This shows the advance of tyranny and usur 
pation. By way of showing to the Senate some of 
the wrongs borne and submitted to by that people, 
who are loyal to the Government who have been 
deprived of the arms furnished by the Govern 
ment for their protection withheld by this little 
man Harris, the Governor of the State, I will 
read a few paragraphs from the address : 

" It has passed laws declaring it treason to say or do any 
thing in favor of the Government of the United States, or 


against the Confederate States ; and such a law is now before, 
and we apprehend will soon be passed by, the Legislature of 

" It has involved the Southern States in a war whose suc 
cess is hopeless, and which must ultimately lead to the ruin 
of the people. 

" Its bigoted, overbearing, and intolerant spirit has already 
subjected the people of East Tennessee to many petty griev 
ances ; our people have been insulted ; our flags have been 
fired upon and torn down ; our houses have been rudely en 
tered ; our families subjected to insult ; our peaceable meetings 
interrupted ; our women and children shot at by a merciless 
soldiery ; our towns pillaged ; our citizens robbed, and some 
of them assassinated and murdered. 

" No effort has been spared to deter the Union men of East 
Tennessee from the expression of their free thoughts. The 
penalties of treason have been threatened against them, arid 
murder and assassination have been openly encouraged by 
leading secession journals. As secession has been thus over 
bearing and intolerant while in the minority in East Tennes 
see, nothing better can be expected of the pretended majority 
than wild, unconstitutional, and oppressive legislation ; an 
utter contempt and disregard of law ; a determination to force 
every Union man in the State to swear to the support of a 
constitution he abhors ; to yield his money and property to 
aid a cause he detests ; and to become the object of scorn 
and derision, as well as the victim of intolerable and relent 
less oppression." 

These are some of the wrongs that we are en 
during in that section of Tennessee ; not nearly all 
of them, but a few which I have presented that the 
country may know what we are submitting to. 
Since I left my home, having only one way to leave 
the State through two or three passes coming out 


through Cumberland Gap, I have been advised that 
they had even sent their armies to blockade these 
passes in the mountains, as they say, to prevent 
Johnson from returning with arms and munitions 
to place in the hands of the people to vindicate their 
rights, repel invasion, and put down domestic insur 
rection and rebellion. Yes, sir, there they stand in 
arms, environing a population of three hundred and 
twenty-five thousand loyal, brave, patriotic, and un 
subdued people ; but yet powerless, and not in a 
condition to vindicate their rights. Hence I come 
to the Government, and I do not ask it as a sup 
pliant, but I demand it as a constitutional right, 
that you give us protection, give us arms and muni 
tions ; and if they cannot be got there in any other 
way, to take them there with an invading army, 
and deliver the people from the oppression to which 
they are now subjected. We claim to be the State. 
The other divisions may have seceded and gone 
off; and if this Government will stand by and per 
mit those portions of the State to go off, and not 
enforce the laws and protect the loyal citizens 
there, we cannot help it ; but we still claim to be 
the State, and if two thirds have fallen off, or have 
been sunk by an earthquake, it does not change our 
relation to this Government. If the Government 
will let them go, and not give us protection, the 
fault is not ours ; but if you will give us protection 
we intend to stand as a State, as a part of this Con 
federacy, holding to the Stars and Stripes, the flag 


of our country. We demand it according to law ; 
we demand it upon the guaranties of the Constitu 
tion. You are bound to guarantee to us a repub 
lican form of government, and we ask it as a 
constitutional right. We do not ask you to inter 
fere as a party, as your feelings or prejudices may 
be one way or another in reference to the parties 
of the country ; but we ask you to interfere as a 
Government, according to the Constitution. Of 
course we want your sympathy, and your regard, 
and your respect ; but we ask your interference on 
constitutional grounds. 

The amendments to the Constitution which con 
stitute the Bill of Rights declare that " a well regu 
lated militia being necessary to the security of a free 
State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms 
shall not be infringed." Our people are denied this 
right, secured to them in their own constitution and 
the Constitution of the United States ; yet we hear 
no complaints here of violations of the Constitution 
in this respect. We ask the Government to inter 
pose to secure us this constitutional right. We want 
the passes in our mountains opened, we want deliver 
ance and protection for a downtrodden and oppressed 
people who are struggling for their independence 
without arms. If we had had ten thousand stand of 
arms and ammunition when the contest commenced, 
we should have asked no further assistance. We 
have not got them. We are a rural people ; we 
have villages and small towns no large cities. 


Our population is homogenous, industrious, frugal, 
brave, independent ; but now harmless and power 
less, and oppressed by usurpers. You may be too 
late in coming to our relief; or you may not come 
at all, though I do not doubt that you will come ; 
they may trample us under foot ; they may convert 
our plains into graveyards, and the caves of our 
mountains into sepulchres ; but they will never take 
us out of this Union, or make us a land of slaves 
no, never ! We intend to stand as firm as adamant, 
and as unyielding as our own majestic mountains 
that surround us. Yes, we will be as fixed and as 
immovable as are they upon their bases. We will 
stand as long as we can ; and if we are overpowered, 
and liberty shall be driven from the land, we intend, 
before she departs, to take the flag of our country, 
with a stalwart arm, a patriotic heart, and an honest 
tread, and place it upon the summit of the loftiest 
and most majestic mountain. We intend to plant it 
there, and leave it, to indicate to the inquirer who 
may come in after-times, the spot where the God 
dess of Liberty lingered and wept for the last time, 
before she took her flight from a people once prosper 
ous, free, and happy. 

We ask the Government to come to our aid. We 
love the Constitution as made by our fathers. We 
have confidence in the integrity and capacity of the 
people to govern themselves. We have lived enter 
taining these opinions : we intend to die entertaining 
them. The battle has commenced. The President 


has placed it upon the true ground. It is an issue 
on the one hand for the people s Government, and 
its overthrow on the other. We have commenced 
the battle of Freedom. It is Freedom s cause. We 
are resisting usurpation and oppression. We will 
triumph ; we must triumph. Right is with us. A 
great and fundamental principle of right, that lies 
at the foundation of all things, is with us. We may 
meet with impediments, and may meet with disas 
ters, and here and there a defeat ; but ultimately 
Freedom s cause must triumph, for 

" Freedom s battle once begun, 
Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son, 
Though baffled oft, is ever won." 

Yes, we must triumph. Though sometimes 1 
cannot see my way clear, in matters of this kind as 
in matters of religion, when my facts give out, when 
my reason fails me, I draw largely upon my faith. 
My faith is strong, based on the eternal principles 
of right, that a thing so monstrously wrong; as is this 

O <^ i/ & 

rebellion, cannot triumph. Can we submit to it ? 
Can bleeding Justice submit to it ? Is the Senate, 
are the American people, prepared to give up the 
graves of Washington and Jackson, to be encircled 
and governed and controlled by a combination of 
traitors and rebels ? I say let the battle go on it is 
Freedom s cause until the Stars and Stripes (God 
bless them !) shall again be unfurled upon every 
cross-road, and from every house-top, throughout the 
Confederacy, North and South. Let the Union be 


reinstated ; let the law be enforced ; let the Con 
stitution be supreme. 

If the Congress of the United States were to give 
up the tombs of Washington and Jackson, we should 
have rising up in our midst another Peter the 
Hermit, in a much more righteous cause, for ours 
is true, while his was a delusion, who would 
appeal to the American people and point to the 
tombs of Washington and Jackson, in the possession 
of those who are worse than the infidel and the 
Turk who held the Holy Sepulchre. I believe the 
American people would start of their own accord, 
when appealed to, to redeem the graves of Wash 
ington and Jackson and Jefferson, and all the other 
patriots who are lying within the limits of the 
Southern Confederacy. I do not believe they would 
stop the march, until again the flag of this Union 
would be placed over the graves of those distin 
guished men. There will be an uprising. Do not 
talk abont Republicans now ; do not talk about 
Democrats now ; do not talk about Whigs or Ameri 
cans now ; talk about your country and the Con 
stitution and the Union. Save that ; preserve the 
integrity of the Government ; once more place it 
erect among the nations of the earth ; and then if 
we want to divide about questions that may arise in 
our midst, we have a Government to divide in. 

I know it has been said that the object of this war 
is to make war on Southern institutions. I have 
been in free States and I have been in slave States, 


and I thank God that, so far as I have been, there 
has been one universal disclaimer of any such pur 
pose. It is a war upon no section ; it is a war upon 
no peculiar institution ; but it is a war for the in 
tegrity of the Government, for the Constitution, and 
the supremacy of the laws. That is what the nation 
understands by it. 

The people whom I represent appeal to the Gov 
ernment and to the nation to give us the constitu 
tional protection that we need. I am proud to say 
that I have met with every manifestation of that 
kind in the Senate, with only a few dissenting voices. 
I am proud to say, too, that I believe old Kentucky 
(God bless her !) will ultimately rise and shake off 
the stupor which has been resting upon her ; and in 
stead of denying us the privilege of passing through 
her borders, and taking arms and munitions of war 
to enable a downtrodden people to defend themselves, 
will not only give us that privilege, but will join us 
and help us in the work. The people of Kentucky 
love the Union ; they love the Constitution : they 
have no fault to find with it ; but in that State they 
have a duplicate to the Governor of ours. When 
we look all round, we see how the Governors of the 
different States have been involved in this con 
spiracy, the most stupendous and gigantic con 
spiracy that was ever formed, and as corrupt and as 
foul as that attempted by Catiline in the days of 
Rome. We know it to be so. Have we not know r n 
men to sit at their desks in this Chamber, using the 


Government s stationery to write treasonable letters ; 
and while receiving their pay, sworn to support the 
Constitution and sustain the law, engaging in mid 
night conclaves to devise ways and means by which 
the Government and the Constitution should be 
overthrown ? The charge was made and published 
in the papers. Many things we know that we 
cannot fully prove ; but we know from the regular 
steps that were taken in this work of breaking up 
the Government, or trying to break it up, that there 
was system, concert of action. It is a scheme more 
corrupt than the assassination planned and conducted 
by Catiline in reference to the Roman Senate. 
The time has arrived when we should show to the 
nations of the earth that we are a nation capable of 
preserving our existence, and give them evidence 
that we will do it. 

I have already detained the Senate much longer 
than I intended when I rose, and I shall conclude 
in a few words more. Although the Government 
has met with a little reverse within a short distance 
of this city, no one should be discouraged and no 
heart should be dismayed. It ought only to prove 
the necessity of bringing forth and exerting still 
more vigorously the power of the Government in 
maintenance of the Constitution and the laws. Let 
the energies of the Government be redoubled, and 
let it go on with this war, not a war upon sections, 
not a war upon peculiar institutions anywhere ; but 
let tha Constitution and the Union be inscribed on 


its banners, and the supremacy and enforcement of 
the laws be its watchword. Then it can, it will, go 
on triumphantly. We must succeed. This Gov 
ernment must not, cannot fail. Though your flag 
may have trailed in the dust ; though a retrogade 
movement may have been made ; though the banner 
of our country may have been sullied, let it still be 
borne onward ; and if, for the prosecution of this 
war in behalf of the Government and the Constitu 
tion, it is necessary to cleanse and purify that banner, 
I say let it be baptized in fire from the sun and 
bathed in a nation s blood ! The nation must be 
redeemed ; it must be triumphant. The Constitu 
tion which is based upon principles immutable, 
and upon which rests the rights of man and the hopes 
and expectations of those who love freedom through 
out the civilized world must be maintained. 




THE Senate having under consideration the following reso 
lution, submitted by MR. WILKINSON on the 16th of Decem 
ber, 1861, and which had been reported upon adversely by the 
Committee on the Judiciary : 

Whereas, J3on. JESSE D. BRIGHT heretofore, on the 1st 
day of March, 1861, wrote a letter, of which the following is 
a copy, 

MY DEAR SIR : Allow me to introduce to your acquaint 
ance my friend Thomas B. Lincoln, of Texas. He visits your 
capital mainly to dispose of what he regards a great improve 
ment in fire-arms. I recommend him to your favorable con 
sideration as a gentleman of the first respectability, and 
reliable in every respect. 

Very truly yours, JESSE D. BRIGHT. 

To His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS, 

President of the Confederation of States. 

And whereas we believe the said letter is evidence of dis 
loyalty to the United States, and is calculated to give aid and 
comfort to the public enemies : Therefore, 

Be it resolved, That the said JESSE D. BRIGHT is expelled 
from his seat in the Senate of the United States. 

Mr. JOHNSON said : Mr. President, when this 
resolution for the expulsion of the Senator from 
Indiana was first presented to the consideration of 


the Senate, it was not my intention to say a single 
word upon it. Presuming that action would be 
had upon it at a very early day, I intended to 
content myself with casting a silent vote. But the 
question has assumed such a shape that, occupying 
the position I do, I cannot consent to record my 
vote without giving some of the reasons that in 
fluence my action. 

I am no enemy of the Senator from Indiana. I 
have no personally unkind feelings towards him. 
I never had any, and have none now. So far as 
my action on this case is concerned, it will be con 
trolled absolutely and exclusively by public con 
siderations, and with no reference to partisan or 
personal feeling. I know that since the discussion 
commenced, an intimation has been thrown out, 
which I was pained to hear, that there was a dis 
position on the part of some to hound down the 
Senator from Indiana. Sir, I know that I have no 
disposition to " hound " any man. I would to 
God that I could think it otherwise than necessary 
for me to say a single word upon this question, or 
even to cast a vote upon it. So far as I know, 
there has never been any unkind feeling between 
the Senator and myself from the time we made our 
advent into public life down to this moment. Al 
though party and party associations and party con 
siderations influence all of us more or less, and 
I do not pretend to be free from the influence of 
party more than others, I know, if I know myself, 


that no such considerations influence me now. Not 
many years ago there was a contest before the 
Senate as to his admission as a Senator from the 
State of Indiana ; we all remember the struggle 
that took place. I will not say that the other side 
of the House were influenced by party consider 
ations when the vote upon that question of admis 
sion took place ; but if my memory serves me cor 
rectly, there was upon one side of the Chamber 
a nearly strict party vote that he was not entitled 
to his seat, while on the other side his right was 
sustained entirely by a party vote. I was one of 
those who voted for the Senator s admission to a 
seat upon this floor under the circumstances. I 
voted to let him into the Senate, and I am con 
strained to say that, before his term has expired, 
I am compelled to vote to expel him from it. In 
saying this, I repeat that if I know myself, and I 
think I do as well as ordinary men know them 
selves, I cast this vote upon public considerations 
entirely, and not from party or personal feeling. 

Mr. President, I hold that under the Constitution 
of the United States we clearly have the power 
to expel a member, and that, too, without our as 
suming the character of a judicial body. It is not 
necessary to have articles of impeachment pre 
ferred by the other House ; it is not necessary to 
organize ourselves into a court for the purpose of 
trial ; but the principle is broad and clear, inherent 
in the very organization of the body itself, that we 


have the power and the right to expel any member 
from the Senate whenever we deem that the public 
interests are unsafe in his hands, and that he is unfit 
to be a member of the body. We all know, and 
the country understands, that provision of the Con 
stitution which confers this power upon the Senate. 
Judge Story, in commenting upon the case of John 
Smith, in connection with the provision of the Con 
stitution to which I have referred, used the follow 
ing language : 

" The precise ground of the failure of the motion does not 
appear; but it may be gathered, from the arguments of his 
counsel, that it did not turn upon any doubt that the power 
of the Senate extended to cases of misdemeanor not done in 
the presence or view of the body ; but most probably it was 
decided upon some doubt as to the facts. It may be thought 
difficult to draw a clear line of distinction between the right to 
inflict the punishment of expulsion and any other punishment 
upon a member, founded on the time, place, or nature of the 
offence. The power to expel a member is not in the British 
House of Commons confined to offences committed by the 
party as a member, or during the session of Parliament : but 
it extends to all cases where the offence is such as, in the 
judgment of the House, unfits him for parliamentary duties. 1 

The rule in the House of Commons was un 
doubtedly in the view of the framers of our Con 
stitution ; and the question is, has the member un 
fitted himself, has he disqualified himself, in view 
of the extraordinary condition of the country, from 
discharging the duties of a Senator ? Looking at 

1 Story s Commentaries on the Constitution. 


his connection with the Executive ; looking at the 
condition, and, probably, the destinies of the coun- 
tiy, we are to decide without prejudice, without 
passion, without excitement can the nation and 
does the nation have confidence in committing its 


destinies to the Senator from Indiana, and others 
who are situated like him ? 

If we were disposed to bring to our aid, and were 
willing to rely upon, the public judgment, what 
should we find ? When you pass through the 
country, the common inquiry is, " Why has not 
Senator Bright, and why have not others like him, 
been expelled from the Senate?" I have had the 
question asked me again and again. I do not in 
tend, though, to predicate my action as a Senator 
upon what may be simply rumor and popular 
clamor or popular indignation ; but still it is not 
often the case that, when there is a public judg 
ment formed in reference to any great question be 
fore the country, that public judgment is not well 
founded, though it is true there are sometimes ex 

Having shown our power in the premises to be 
clear, according to the general authority granted 
by the Constitution and the broad principle stated 
by Judge Story in its elucidation, I next turn my 
attention to the case itself. The Senator from In 
diana is charged with having written a letter on 
the first of March last to the chief of the rebellion, 
and this is the basis of this proceeding against him. 



What was the condition of the country at the time 
that letter was written ? Did war then exist or 
not ? for really that is the great point in the case. 
On that point, allow me to read an extract from 
the charge of Judge David A. Smalley to the 
grand jury of the United States District Court for 
the Southern District of New York, published in the 
" National Intelligencer " of January 21, 1861 : - 

" It is well known that war, civil war, exists in portions of 
the Union ; that persons owing allegiance to the United States 
have confederated together, and with arms, by force and 
intimidation, have prevented the execution of the constitutional 
acts of Congress, have forcibly seized upon and hold a custom 
house and post-office, forts, arsenals, vessels, and other property 
belonging to the United States, and have actually fired upon 
vessels bearing the United States flag and carrying United 
States troops. This is a usurpation of the authority of the 
Federal Government ; it is high treason by levying war. 
Either one of those acts will constitute high treason. There 
can be no doubt of it." 

The judge here defines high treason, and he goes 
on to say, 

" What amounts to adhering to and giving aid and comfort 
to our enemies, it is somewhat difficult in all cases to define ; 
but certain it is that furnishing them with arms," 

It really seems that, by some kind of intuition, 
the judge had in his mind the precise case now 
under our consideration, and had anticipated it last 

" certain it is that furnishing them with arms or munitions of 
war, vessels or other means of transportation, or any materials 


which will aid the traitors in carrying out their traitorous 
purposes, with a knowledge that they are intended for such 
purposes, or inciting and encouraging others to engage in or 
aid the traitors in any way, does come within the provisions of 
the act." 

In this view, even if we were sitting as a court, 
bound by the rules and technicalities of judicial 
proceedings, should we not be bound to hold that 
this case comes within this legal definition ? 

" And it is immaterial," adds Judge Smalley, " whether such 
acts are induced by sympathy with the rebellion, hostility to 
the Government, or a design for gain." 

In view of these authorities, let us look at the 
letter. It was written on the 1st of March, 1861. 
The opinion of Judge Smalley was published in 
the " Intelligencer " of the 21st of January, 1861, 
and must, of course, have been delivered before 
that time. It would be doing the Senator s intel 
ligence great injustice to presume that he was not 
as well informed on the subject as the judge was 
who was charging the grand jury in reference to an 
act of Congress passed at an early day in the history 
of the Government. It would be doing him great 
injustice to suppose that he was not familiar with 
the statute. It would be doing him great injustice 
to suppose that he had not observed the fact that 
the attention of the country was being called by 
the courts to the treason that was rampant through 
out the land. The letter complained of is as fol 
lows : 


WASHINGTON, March 1, 1861. 

My DEAR SIR : Allow me to introduce to your acquaint 
ance my friend Thomas B. Lincoln, of Texas. He visits your 
capital mainly to dispose of what he regards a great improve 
ment in fire-arms. I recommend him to your favorable con 
sideration as a gentleman of the first respectability, and reliable 
in every respect. 

Very truly yours, JESSE D. BRIGHT. 

To His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS, 

President of the Confederation of States. 

According to the charge of Judge Sm alley, 
which I have already read, the flag of the United 
States had been fired upon before the 21st of Jan 
uary, 1861, and war then did in fact exist. When 
the rebels were taking our forts ; when they were 
taking possession of our post-offices ; when they 
were seizing our custom-houses ; when they were 

O i/ 

taking possession of our mints and the depositories 
of the public money, can it be possible that the 
Senator from Indiana did not know that war 
existed, and that rebellion was going on ? It is a 
fact that the ordinance of the convention of Texas 
seceding from the Union and attaching herself to 
the Southern Confederacy, was dated back as far 
as the 1st of February, 1861. Then, at the time 
the letter was written, Thomas B. Lincoln was a 
citizen of a rebel State ; a traitor and a rebel him 
self. He comes to the Senator asking him to do 
what? To write a letter by which he could be 
facilitated in his scheme of selling an improved 
fire-arm, an implement of war and of death. Can 


there be any mistake about it? He asks for a 
letter recommending an improved fire-arm to the 
President of the rebel States, who was then in 
actual w r ar ; the man who asked for this being him 
self from a State that was in open rebellion, and he 
himself a traitor. 

Now, sir, if we were a court, how would the case 
be presented ? I know the Constitution says that 
" no person shall be convicted of treason unless on 
the testimony of tw r o witnesses to the same overt 
act, or on confession in open court." Here is an 
overt act ; it is show r n clearly and plainly. We 
have the Senator s confession in open Senate that 
he did write the letter. Shall we with this dis 
cretion, in view of the protection of this body and 
the safety of the Government, decide the case upon 
special pleas or hunt up technicalities by which the 
Senator can escape, as you would quash an indict 
ment in a criminal court ? 

The case of John Smith has already been stated 
to the Senate. A true bill had been found ao-ainst 


him for his connection with Burr s treason, but 
upon a technicality, the proof not being made out 
according to the Constitution, and Burr having 
been tried first and acquitted, the bill against Smith 
was quashed, as he was only an accomplice. He 
was, therefore, turned out of court ; the proceed 
ings against him were quashed upon a technicality ; 
but John Smith was a Senator, and he came here 
to this body. He came again to take his seat in the 



Senate of the United States, and what did the 
Senate do ? They took up his case ; they investi 
gated it. Mr. Adams made a report, able, full, 
complete. I may say he came well-nigh exhausting 
the whole subject. The committee reported a res 
olution for his expulsion, and how did the vote 
stand ? It is true that Mr. Smith was not ex 
pelled for the want of some little formality in this 
body, the vote standing 19 to 10. It only lacked 
one vote to put him out by a two-thirds majority, 
according to the requirements of the Constitution. 
What was the judgment of the nation ? It was 
that John Smith was an accomplice of Burr, and 
the Senate condemned him and almost expelled him, 
not narrowing itself down to those rules and tech 
nicalities that are resorted to in courts and by 
which criminals escape. To show the grounds 
upon which the action in that case was based, I beg 
leave to read some extracts from Mr. John Qirincy 
Adams s report in that case : 

" In examining the question whether these forms of judi 
cial proceedings or the rules of judicial evidence ought to be 
applied to the exercise of that censorial authority which the 
Senate of the United States possesses over the conduct of its 
members, let us assume as the test of their application either 
the dictates of unfettered reason, the letter and spirit of the 
Constitution, or precedents domestic or foreign, and your com 
mittee believe that the result will be the same : that the power 
of expelling a member must in its nature be discretionary, and 
in its exercise always more summary than the tardy process of 
judical proceedings. 

" The power of expelling a member for misconduct results, 


on the principles of common sense, from the interests of the 
nation that the high trust of legislation should be invested in 
pure hands. When the trust is elective, it is not to be pre 
sumed that the constituent body will commit the deposit to the 
keeping of worthless characters. But when a man, whom his 
fellow-citizens have honored with their confidence on the 
pledge of a spotless reputation, has degraded himself by the 
commission of infamous crimes, which become suddenly and 
unexpectedly revealed to the world, defective, indeed, would 
be that institution which should be impotent to discard from its 
bosom the contagion of such a member ; which should have no 
remedy of amputation to apply until the poison had reached 
the heart." 

" But when a member of a legislative body lies under the 
imputation of aggravated offences, and the determination upon 
his case can operate only to remove him from a station of ex 
tensive powers and important trusts, this disproportion between 
the interest of the public and the interest of the individual 
disappears ; if any disproportion exists, it is of an opposite 
kind. It is not better that ten traitors should be members of 
this Senate, than that one innocent man should suffer expulsion. 
In either case, no doubt, the evil would be great; but in the 
former, it would strike at the vitals of the nation ; in the latter 
it might, though deeply to be lamented, only be the calamity 
of an individual." 

" Yet in the midst of all this anxious providence of legisla 
tive virtue, it has not authorized the constituent body to recall 
in any case its representative. It has not subjected him to 
removal by impeachment ; and when the darling of the 
people s choice has become their deadliest foe, can it enter the 
imagination of a reasonable man, that the sanctuary of their 
legislation must remain polluted with his presence, until a 
court of common law, with its pace of snail, can ascertain 
whether his crime was committed on the right or on the left 


bank of a river ; whether a puncture of difference can be 
found between the words of the charge and the words of the 
proof; whether the witnesses of his guilt should or should not 
be heard by his jury ; and whether he was punishable, because 
present at an over act, or intangible to public justice because 
he only contrived and prepared it ? Is it conceivable that a 
traitor to that country which has loaded him with favors, guilty 
to the common understanding of all mankind, should be 
suffered to return unquestioned to that post of honor and con 
fidence where, in the zenith of his good fame, he had been 
placed by the esteem of his countrymen, and in defiance of 
their wishes, in mockery of their fears, surrounded by the 
public indignation, but inaccessible to its bolt, pursue the pur 
poses of treason in the heart of the national councils ? Must 
the assembled rulers of the land listen with calmness and in 
difference, session after session, to the voice of notorious 
infamy, until ihe sluggard step of municipal justice can over 
take his enormities ? Must they tamely see the lives and 
fortunes of millions, the safety of present and future ages, 
depending upon his vote, recorded with theirs, merely because 
the abused benignity of general maxims may have remitted to 
him the forfeiture of his life ? " 

" Such, in very supposable cases, would be the unavoidable 
consequences of a principle which should offer the crutches of 
judicial tribunals as an apology for crippling the congressional 
power of expulsion. Far different, in the opinion of your 
committee, is the spirit of our Constitution. They believed 
that the very purpose for which this power was given was to 
preserve the Legislature from the first approaches of infection ; 
that it was made discretionary, because it could not exist under 
the procrastination of general rules. That its process must 
be summary, because it would be rendered nugatory by delay." 

Mr. President, suppose Aaron Burr had been a 
Senator, and after his acquittal he had come back 
here, to take his seat in the Senate, what would 


have been done ? According to the doctrine avuwcd 
in this debate, that we must sit as a court and sub 
ject the individual to all the rules and technicali 
ties of criminal proceedings, could he have been 
expelled ? And yet is there a Senator here who 
would have voted to allow Aaron Burr to take a 
seat in the Senate after his acquittal by a court and 
jury ? No ; there is not a Senator here who would 
have done it. Aaron Burr was tried in court, and 
he was found not guilty ; he was turned loose ; but 
was the public judgment of this nation less satis 
fied of his guilt than if he had not been acquitted ? 
What is the nation s judgment, settled and fixed ? 
That Aaron Burr was guilty of treason, notwith 
standing he was acquitted by a court and jury. 

It is said by some Senators that the Senator 
from Indiana wrote this letter simply as a letter of 
friendship. Sir, just think of it ! A Senator of 
the United States was called upon to write a letter 
for a rebel, for a man from a rebel State, after the 
courts of the country had pronounced that civil 
war existed ; after the judicial tribunals had defined 
what aiding and adhering to the enemies of the 
country was ! Under such circumstances, what 
would have been the course of loyalty and of pa 
triotism ? Suppose a man who had been your 
friend, sir, who had rendered you many acts of 
kindness, had come to you for such a letter. You 
would have asked where he was going with it. 
You would have said : " There is a Southern Con- 


federacy ; there is a rebellion ; my friend, you can 
not ask me to write a letter to anybody there ; they 
are at war with the United States ; they are at war 
with my Government ; I cannot write you a letter 
giving you aid and assistance in selling your im 
proved fire-arm there." Why ? " Because that 
fire-arm may bt used against my own country and 
against my own fellow-citizens." Would not that 
have been the language of a man who was willing 
to recognize his obligations of duty to his country ? 
What was the object of writing the letter ? It 
certainly was to aid, to facilitate the selling of his 
fire-arms, to inspire the rebel chief with confidence 
in the individual. It was saying substantially, " I 
know this man ; I write to you because I know 
you have confidence in me ; I send him to you be 
cause I know you need fire-arms ; you need im 
proved fire-arms ; you need the most deadly and 
destructive weapons of warfare to overcome this 
great and this glorious country ; I recommend him 
to you, and I recommend his fire-arms ; he is a man 
in whom entire confidence may be placed." That, 
sir, is the letter. I have already shown the cir 
cumstances under which it was written. If such 
a letter had been written in the purest innocence 
of intention, with no treasonable design, with no 
desire to injure his own Government, yet, in view 
of all the circumstances, in view of the facts which 
had transpired, a Senator who w r ould be so un- 
thoughtful, and so negligent, and so regardless of 


his country s interests as to write such a letter, is 
not entitled to a seat on this floor. [Applause in 
the galleries.] 

The PRESIDING OFFICER,. 1 Order ! order ! 

Mr. JOHNSON. Then, Mr. President, what has 
been the bearing and the conduct of the Senator 
from Indiana since ? I desire it to be understood 
that I refer to him in no unkindness, for God knows 
I bear him none ; but my duty I will perform. 
" Duties are mine, consequences are God s." What 
has been the Senator s bearing generally ? Have 
you heard of his being in the field ? Have you 
heard of his voice and his influence being raised 
for his bleeding and distracted country ? Has his 
influence been brought to bear officially, socially, 
politically, or in any way for the suppression of the 
rebellion ? If so, I am unaware of it. Where is 
the evidence of devotion to his country in his 
speeches and in his votes ? Where the evidence 
of the disposition on his part to overthrow and put 
down the rebellion? I have been told, Mr. Presi 
dent, by honorable gentlemen, as an evidence of 
the Senator s devotion to his country and his great 
opposition to this Southern movement, that they 
heard him, and perhaps with tears in his eyes, re 
monstrate with the leaders of the rebellion that 
they should not leave him here in the Senate, or 
that they should not persist in their course after the 
relations that had existed between them and him, 

1 Mr. Sherman. 


and the other Democrats of the country ; that he 
thought they were treating him badly. This was 
the kind of remonstrance he made. Be it so. I 
am willing to give the Senator credit for all he is 
entitled to, and I would to God I could credit him 
with more. 

But do Senators remember that when this battle 
was being fought in the Senate I stood here on this 
side, solitary and alone, on the 19th day of Decem 
ber, 1860, and proclaimed that the Government 
was at an end if you denied it the power to enforce 
its laws ? I declared then that a government which 
had not the power to coerce obedience on the part 
of those who violated the law was no government 
at all, and had failed to carry out the objects of its 
creation, and was, ipso facto, dissolved. When I 
stood on this floor and fought the battle for the 


supremacy of the Constitution and the enforcement 
of the laws, has the Senate forgotten that a bevy of 
conspirators gathered in from the other House, and 
that those who were here crowded around, with 
frowns and scowls, and expressions of indignation 
and contempt toward me, because I dared to raise 
my feeble voice in vindication of the Constitution 
and the enforcement of the laws of the Union ? 
Have you forgotten the taunts, the jeers, the deri 
sive remarks, the contemptuous expressions that 
were indulged in ? If you have, I have not. If 
the Senator felt such great reluctance at the depart 
ure from the Senate of the chiefs of the rebellion, I 


should have been glad to receive one encouraging 
smile from him when I was fighting the battles of 
the country. I did not receive one encouraging 
expression ; I received not a single sustaining look. 
It would have been peculiarly encouraging to me, 
under the circumstances, to be greeted and encour 
aged by one of the Senator s talents and long stand 
ing in public life ; but he was cold as an iceberg, 
and I stood solitary and alone amidst the gang of 
conspirators that had gathered around me. So 
much for the Senator s remonstrances and expres 
sions of regret for the retirement of those gentlemen. 
The bearing of the Senator since he wrote this 
letter has not been unobserved. I have not com 
pared notes ; I have not hunted up the record in 
reference to it ; but I have a perfect recollection of 
it. Did we not see, during the last session of Con 
gress, the line being drawn between those who 
were devoted to the Union and those who were 
not ? Cannot we sometimes see a great deal more 
than is expressed ? Does it require us to have a 
man s sentiments written down in burning and 
blazing characters, before we are able to judge 
what they are ? Has it not been observable all 
through this history where the true Union heart 
has stood ? What was the Senator s bearing at 
the last session of Congress ? Do we not know 
that in the main he stood here opposed substan 
tially to every measure which was necessary to sus 
tain the Government in its trial and peril ? He 



may perhaps have voted for some measures that 
were collateral, remote, indirect in their bearing ; 
but do we not know that his vote and his influence 
were cast against the measures which were abso 
lutely necessary to sustain the Government in its 
hour of peril ? 

Some gentlemen have said, and well said, that 
we should not judge by party. I say so, too. I 
voted to let the Senator from Indiana into the body, 
and as a Democrat my bias and prejudice would 
rather be in his favor. I am a Democrat now ; I 
have been one all my life ; I expect to live and die 
one ; and the corner-stone of my Democracy rests 
upon the enduring basis of the Union. Democrats 
may come and go, but they shall never divert me 
from the polar star by which I have ever been 
guided from early life, the great principle of De 
mocracy upon which this Government rests, and 
which cannot be carried out without the preser 
vation of the Union of these States. The pretence 
hitherto employed by many who are now in the 
traitors camp has been, " We are for the Union ; 
we are not for dissolution ; but we are opposed to 
coercion." How long, Senators, have you heard 
that syren song ? Where are now most of those 
who sang those syren tones to us ? Look back to 
the last session, and inquire where now are the men 
who then were singing that song in our ears ? 
Where is Trusteii Polk, who then stood here so 
gently craving for peace ? He is in the rebel camp. 


Where is John C. Breckinridge ? a man for 
whose promotion to the Presidency I did what I 
conld, physically, mentally, and pecuniarily ; but 
when he satisfied me that he was for breaking up 
this Government, and would ere long be a traitor to 
his country, I dropped him as I would the Senator 
from Indiana. He was here at the last session of 
Congress ; and everybody could see then that he 
was on the road to the traitors camp. Instead of 
sustaining the Government, he, too, was crying out 
for peace ; but he was bitter against " Lincoln s gov 
ernment." Sir, when I talk about preserving this 
great Government, I do not have its executive 
officer in my mind. The executive head of the 
Government comes in and goes out of office every 
four years. He is the mere creature of the people. 
I talk about the Government without regard to the 
particular executive officers who have charge of it. 
If they do well, we can continue them ; if they do 
wrong, we can turn them out. Mr. Lincoln having 
come in according to the forms of law and the 
Constitution, I, loving my Government and the 
Union, felt it to be my duty to stand by the Gov 
ernment, and to stand by the Administration in all 
those measures that I believed to be necessary and 
proper for the preservation and perpetuation of the 

Mr. Polk has gone ; Mr. Breckinridge has gone ; 
my namesake, the late Senator from Missouri, has 
gone. Did you not see the line of separation at the 


last session ? Although Senators make speeches, 
in which they give utterance to disclaimers, we can 
see their bearing. It is visible now ; and the obli 
gations of truth and duty to my country require me 
to speak of it. I believe there are treasonable 
tendencies here now ; and how long it will be 
before they will lead to the traitors camp, I shall 
not undertake to say. The great point with these 
gentlemen is, that they are opposed to coercion and 
to the enforcement of the laws. Without regard to 
the general bearing of the Senator from Indiana 
upon that point, let me quote the conclusion of his 
letter of the 7th of September, 1861, to J. Fitch. 
I will read only the concluding portion of the letter, 
as it does him no injustice to omit the remainder : 

" And hence I have opposed, and so long as my present 
convictions last shall continue to oppose, the entire coercive 
policy of the Government. I hope this may be satisfactory to 
my friends. For my enemies I care not." 

Does not this correspond with the Senator s 
general bearing? Has he given his aid or coun 
tenance or influence, in any manner, towards the 
efforts of the Government to sustain itself? What 
has been his course ? We know that great stress 
has been laid upon the word " coercion," and it 
has been played upon effectually for the purpose of 
prejudicing the Southern mind, in connection with 
the other term, " subjugation of the States," which 
has been used so often. We may as well be honest 
and fair, and admit the truth of the great proposi- 


tion, that a government cannot exist in other 
words, it is no government if it is without the 
power to enforce its laws and coerce obedience to 
them. That is all there is of it ; and the very 
instant you take that power from this Government, 
it is at an end ; it is a mere rope of sand that will 
fall to pieces of its own weight. It is idle, Utopian, 
chimerical, to talk about a Government existing 
without the power to enforce its laws. How is the 
Government to enforce its laws? The Constitution 
says that Congress shall have power " to provide 
for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of 
the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel inva 
sions." Let me ask the Senator from Indiana, 
with all his astuteness, how is rebellion to be put 
down, how is it to be resisted, unless there is some 
power in the Government to enforce its laws ? 

If there be a citizen who violates your post-office 
laws, who counterfeits the coin of the United States, 
or who commits any other offence against the laws 
of the United States, you subject him to trial and 
punishment. Is not that coercion ? Is not that en 
forcing the laws? How is rebellion to be put down 
without coercion, without enforcing the laws ? Can 
it be done ? The Constitution provides that, 

" The United States shall guarantee to every State in this 
Union a republican form of government, and shall protect 
each of them from invasion ; and on application of the Legis 
lature, or of the Executive, (when the Legislature canuot be 
convened,) against domestic violence." 


How is this Government to put down domestic 
violence in a State without coercion ? How is the 
nation to be protected against insurrection without 
coercing the citizens to obedience? Can it be 
done? When the Senator says he is against the 
entire coercive policy of the Government, he is 
against the vital principle of all government. I 
look upon this as the most revolutionary and de 
structive doctrine that ever was preached. If this 
Government cannot call forth the militia, if it can 
not repel invasion, if it cannot put down domestic 
violence, if it cannot suppress rebellion, I ask if the 
great objects of the Government are not at an end ? 

Look at my own State, by way of illustration. 
There is open rebellion there ; there is domestic 
violence ; there is insurrection. An attempt has 
been made to transfer that State to another power. 
Let me ask the Senator from Indiana if the Con 
stitution does not require you to guarantee us a 
republican form of government in that State ? Is 
not that your sworn duty ? We ask you to put 
down this unholy rebellion. What answer would 
he give us ? We ask you to protect us against 
insurrection and domestic violence. What is his 
reply ? "I am against your whole coercive pol 
icy ; I am against the enforcement of the laws." 
I say that if that principle be acted on, your Gov 
ernment is at an end ; it fails utterly to carry out 
the object of its creation. Such a principle leads 
to the destruction of the Government, for it must 


inevitably result in anarchy and confusion. " I 
arn opposed to the entire coercive policy of the 
Government," says the Senator from Indiana. 
That cuckoo note has been reiterated to satiety ; 
it is understood ; men know the nature and char 
acter of their Government, and they also know that 
to cry out against " coercion " and " subjugation " is 
mere ad captandum, idle, and unmeaning slang- 

Sir, I may be a little sensitive on this subject 
upon the one hand, while I know I want to do 
ample justice upon the other. I took an oath to 
support the Constitution of the United States. 
There is rebellion in the land ; there is insurrection 
against the authority of this Government. Is the 
Senator from Indiana so unobservant or so obtuse 
that he does not know now that there has been a 
deliberate design for years to change the nature and 
character and genius of this Government ? Do we 
not know that these schemers have been deliber 
ately at work, and that there is a party in the 
South, with some associates in the North, and even 
in the West, that have become tired of free gov 
ernment, in which they have lost confidence ? 
They raise an outcry against " coercion," that they 
may paralyze the Government, cripple the exercise 
of the great powers with which it was invested, and 
finally to change its form and subject us to a Southern 
despotism. Do we not know it to be so ? Why 
disguise this great truth ? Do we not know that 


they have been anxious for a change of Govern 
ment for years ? Since this rebellion commenced it 
has manifested itself in many quarters. How long 
is it since the organ of the government at Rich 
mond, the " Richmond Whig," declared that 
rather than live under the Government of the 
United States, they preferred to take the constitu 
tional Queen of Great Britain as their protector ; 
that they would make an alliance with Great Britain 
for the purpose of preventing the enforcement of 
the laws of the United States ? Do we not know 
this ? Why then play " hide and go seek " ? Why 
say, " Oh, yes, I am for the Union," while every 
act, influence, conversation, vote, is against it? 
What confidence can we have in one who takes 
such a course ? 

The people of my State, down-trodden and op 
pressed by the iron heel of Southern despotism, 
appeal to you for protection. They ask you to 
protect them against domestic violence. They 
want you to help them to put down this unholy 
and damnable rebellion. They call upon this Gov 
ernment for the execution of its constitutional duty 
to guarantee to them a republican form of govern 
ment, and to protect them against the tyranny and 
despotism which is stalking abroad. What is the 
cold reply ? "I am against the entire coercive pol 
icy ; I am not for enforcing the laws." Upon such 
a doctrine Government crumbles to pieces, and 
anarchy and despotism reign throughout the land.. 


Indiana, God bless her, is as true to the Union 
as the needle is to the pole. She has sent out her 
" columns " ; she has sent her thousands into the 
field, for what ? To sustain the Constitution and 
to enforce the laws ; and as they march with strong 
arms and brave hearts to relieve a suffering peo 
ple, who have committed no oifence save devotion 
to this glorious Union ; as they march to the res 
cue of the Constitution and to extend its benefits 
again to a people who love it dearly, and who 
have been ruthlessly torn from under its protect- 
in (f seo-is, what does their Senator sav to them? 

^> ""i 7 ^ 

" I am against the entire policy of coercion." Do 
you ever hear a Senator who thus talks make any 
objection to the exercise of unconstitutional and 
tyrannical power by the so-called Southern Con 
federacy, or say a word against its practice of 
coercion ? In all the speeches that have been de 
livered on that point, has one sentence against 
usurpation, against despotism, against the exercise 
of doubtful and unconstitutional powers by that 
Confederacy, been uttered ? Oh, no ! Have you 
heard any objection to their practising not only 
coercion but usurpation ? Have they not usurped 
government ? Have they not oppressed, and are 
they not now tyrannizing over the people ? The 
people of my State are coerced, borne down, trod 
den beneath the iron heel of power. We appeal to 
you for protection. You stand by and see us 
coerced ; you stand by and see tyranny triumphing, 


and no sympathy, no kindness, no helping hand can 
be extended to us. Your Government is paralyzed ; 
your Government is powerless ; that which you 
have called a government is a dream, an idle thing. 
You thought you had a government, but you have 
none. My people are appealing to you for protec 
tion under the Constitution. They are arrested by 
hundreds and by thousands ; they are dragged away 
from their homes and incarcerated in dungeons. 
They ask you for protection. , Why do you not 
give it ? Some of them are lying chained in their 
lonely prison-house. The only response to their 
murmur is the rattling and clanking of the chains 
that bind their limbs. The only response to their 
appeals is the grating of the hinges of their dungeon. 
When we ask for help under the Constitution, we 
are told that the Government has no power to 
enforce the laws. Our people are oppressed and 
down-trodden, and you give them no remedy. They 
were taught to love and respect the Constitution of 
the United States. What is their condition to-day ? 
They are hunted and pursued like the beasts of the 
forest by the secession and disunion hordes who are 
enforcing their doctrine of coercion. They are shot 
or hung for no crime save a desire to stand by the 
Constitution of the United States. Helpless chil 
dren and innocent females are murdered in cold 
blood. Our men are hung and their bodies left 
upon the gibbet. They are shot and left lying in 
the gorges of the mountains, not even thrown into 


the caves there to lie, but are left exposed to pass 
through all the loathsome stages of decomposition, 
or to be devoured by the birds of prey. We appeal 
for protection, and are told by the Senator from 
Indiana and others, " We cannot enforce the laws ; 
we are against the entire coercive policy." Do 
you not hear their groans ? Do you not hear their 
cries ? Do you not hear the shrieks of oppressed 
and down-trodden women and children ? Sir, their 
tones ring out so loud and clear, that even listening 
angels look from heaven in pity. 

I will not pursue this idea further, for I perceive 
that I am consuming more time than I intended to 
occupy. I think it it clear, without going further 
into the discussion, that the Senator from Indiana 
has sympathized with the rebellion. The conclu 
sion is fixed upon my mind that the Senator from 
Indiana has disqualified himself, has incapacitated 
himself to discharge the duties in this body of a 
loyal Senator. I think it is clear that, even if we 
were a court, we should be bound to convict him ; 
but I do not narrow the case down to the close rules 
that would govern a court of justice. 

But, sir, in the course of the discussion one pal 
liating fact was submitted by the distinguished Sen 
ator from New Jersey, 1 and he knows that I do not 
refer to him in any spirit of unkindness. There 
was more of legal learning and special pleading in 
his suggestion than solidity or sound argument. He 

i Mr. Ten Eyck. 


suggested that there was no proof that this letter 
had ever been delivered to Jefferson Davis, and 
that therefore the Senator from Indiana ought not 
to be convicted. Well, sir, on the other hand, there 
is no proof that it was not delivered. It is true, 
the letter was found in Mr. Lincoln s possession ; 
but who knows that Davis did not read the letter, 
and han 1 it back to Lincoln ? It may have been 
that, being from his early friend, a man whom he 
respected, Lincoln desired to keep the letter and 
show it to somebody else. We have as much right 
to infer that the letter was delivered as that it was 
not ; but be that as it may, does it lessen the culpa 
bility of the Senator from Indiana ? He com 
mitted the act, and so far as he was concerned it 
was executed. It would be no palliation of his of 
fence if the man did not deliver the letter to Davis. 
The intent and the act were just as complete as if it 
had been delivered. 

During the war of the Revolution, in 1780, 
Major Andre*, a British spy, held a conference with 
Benedict Arnold. Arnold prepared his letters, six 
in number, and they were handed over to Major 
Andre*, who put them between the soles of his feet 
and his stockings, and he started on his way to 
join Sir Henry Clinton. Before he reached his 
destination, however, John Paulding and his two 
associates arrested Major Andr. They pulled off 
his boots and his stockings, and they got the papers ; 
they kept them, and Major Andre* was tried and 


hung as a spy. Arnold s papers were not delivered 
to Sir Henry Clinton ; but is there anybody here 
who doubts that Arnold was a traitor ? Has public 
opinion ever changed upon that subject ? He was 
not convicted in a court, nor were the treasonable 
despatches which were to expose the condition of 
West Point, and make the British attack upon it 
easy and successful, ever delivered to Sir Henry 
Clinton, and yet Andre was hung as a spy. Be 
cause Sir Henry Clinton did not receive the trea 
sonable documents, was the guilt of Benedict Arnold 
any the less ? I do not intend to argue this ques 
tion in a legal way ; I simply mention this circum 
stance by way of illustration of the point which has 
been urged in the present case, and leave it for the 
public judgment to determine. 

Sir, it has been said by the distinguished Senator 
from Delaware l that the questions in controversy 
might all have been settled by compromise. He 
dealt rather extensively in the party aspect of the 
case, and seemingly desired to throw the onus of the 
present condition of affairs entirely on one side. 
He told us that if so and so had been done these 
questions could have been settled, and that now 
there would have been no war. He referred par 
ticularly to the resolution offered during the last 
Congress by the Senator from New Hampshire, 2 
and upon the vote on that he based his argument. 
I do not mean to be egotistical, but if he will give 

l Mr. Saulsbury. 2 Mr. Clark. 



me his attention I intend to take the staple out of 
that speech, and show how much of it is left on that 

The speech of the Senator from Delaware was 
a very fine one. I have not the power, as he has, 
to con over and get by rote, and memorize hand 
somely rounded periods, and make a great display 
of rhetoric. It is my misfortune that I am not so 
skilled. I have to seize on fugitive thoughts as 
they pass through my mind, make the best appli 
cation of them I can, and express them in my own 
crude way. I am not one of those who prepare 
rounding, sounding, bounding rhetorical nourishes, 
read them over twenty times before I come into the 
Senate Chamber, make a great display, and have it 
said, " Oh, that is a fine speech ! " I have heard 
many such fine speeches ; but when I have had 
time to follow them up, I have found that it never 
took long to analyze them, and reduce them to their 
original elements ; and that when they were reduced, 
there was not very much of them. [Laughter.] 

The Senator told us that the adoption of the 
Clark amendment to the Crittenden resolutions 
defeated the settlement of the questions of contro 
versy ; and that, but for that vote, all could have 
been peace and prosperity now. We were told 
that the Clark amendment defeated the Crittenden 
Compromise, and prevented a settlement of the 
controversy. On this point I will read a portion 
of the speech of my worthy and talented friend 


from California, 1 and when I speak of him thus, I do 
it in no unmeaning sense. I intend that he, not I, 
shall answer the Senator from Delaware. I know 
that sometimes, when gentlemen are fixing up their 
pretty rhetorical flourishes, they do not take time 
to see all the sharp corners they may encounter. 
If they can make a readable sentence, and float on 
in a smooth, easy stream, all goes well, and they 
are satisfied. As I have said, the Senator from 
Delaware told us that the Clark amendment was 
the turning-point in the whole matter ; that from 
it had flowed rebellion, revolution, war, the shoot 
ing and imprisonment of people in different States, 
perhaps he meant to include my own. This was 
the Pandora s box that has been opened, out of 
which all the evils that now afflict the land have 
flown. Thank God, I still have hope that all will 
yet be saved. My worthy friend from California, 1 
during, the last session of Congress, made one of 
the best speeches he ever made. I bought five 
thousand copies of it for distribution, but I had no 
constituents to send them to ; [laughter ;] and they 
have been lying in your document-room ever since, 
with the exception of a few, which I thought would 
do good in some quarters. In the course of that 
speech, upon this very point, he made use of these 
remarks : 

" Mr. President, being last winter a careful eye-witness of 
all that occurred, I soon became satisfied that it was a deliber- 

1 Mr. Latham. 


ate, wilful design, on the part of some representatives of 
Southern States, to seize upon the election of Mr. Lincoln 
merely as an excuse to precipitate this revolution upon the 
country. One evidence, to my mind, is the fact that South 
Carolina never sent her Senators here." 

Then they certainly were not influenced by the 
Clark amendment. 

" An additional evidence is, that when gentlemen on this 
floor, by their votes, could have controlled legislation, they 
refused to cast them for fear that the very propositions sub 
mitted to this body might have an influence in changing the 
opinions of their constituencies. Why, sir, when the resolu 
tions submitted by the Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. 
Clark] were offered as an amendment to the Crittenden prop 
ositions, for the manifest purpose of embarrassing the latter, 
and the vote taken on the 16th of January, 1861, I ask, what 
did we see ? There were fifty-five Senators at that time upon 
this floor in person. The * Globe of the second session, Thirty- 
Sixth Congress, part 1, page 409, shows that upon the call of 
the yeas and nays immediately preceding the vote on the sub 
stituting of Mr. Clark s amendment, there were fifty-five 
votes cast. I will read the vote from the Globe : 

" Yeas Messrs. Anthony, Baker, Bingham, Cameron, 
Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon, Doolittle, Durkee, Fes- 
senden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, Hale, Harlan, King, Seward, 
Simmons, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson, 
and Wilson 25. 

" Nays Messrs. Bayard, Benjamin, Bigler, Bragg, Bright, 
Clingman, Crittenden, Douglas, Fitch, Green, Gwin, Hemp- 
hill, Hunter, Iverson, Johnson of Arkansas, Johnson of Ten 
nessee, Kennedy, Lane, Latham, Mason, Nicholson, Pearce, 
Polk, Powell, Pugh, Rice, Saulsbury, Sebastian, Slidell, and 
Wigfall 30. 

"The vote being taken immediately after, on the Clark 
proposition, was as follows : 


" Yeas Messrs. Anthony, Baker, Bingham, Cameron, 
Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon, Doolittle, Durkee, Fes- 
senden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, Hale, Harlan, King, Seward, 
Simmons, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson, 
and Wilson 25. 

" Nays Messrs. Bayard, Bigler, Bragg, Bright, Cling- 
man, Crittenden, Fitch, Green, Gwin, Hunter, Johnson of 
Tennessee, Kennedy, Lane, Latham, Mason, Nicholson, 
Pearce, Polk, Powell, Pugh, Rice, Saulsbury, and Sebas 
tian 23. 

" Six Senators retained their seats and refused to vote, 
thus themselves allowing the Clark proposition to supplant 
the Crittenden resolution by a vote of twenty-five to twenty- 
three. Mr. Benjamin of Louisiana, Mr. Hemphill and Mr. 
Wigfall of Texas, Mr. Iverson of Georgia, Mr. Johnson of 
Arkansas, and Mr. Slidell of Louisiana, were in their seats, 
but refused to cast their votes." 

I sat right behind Mr. Benjamin, and I am not 
sure that my worthy friend was not close by, when 
he refused to vote, and I said to him, " Mr. Ben 
jamin, why do you not vote ? Why not save this 
proposition, and see if we cannot bring the country 
to it ?" He gave me rather an abrupt answer, and 
said he would control his own action without con 
sulting me or anybody else. Said I, u Vote, and 
show yourself an honest man." As soon as the 
vote was taken, he and others telegraphed South, 
" We cannot get any compromise." Here were 
six Southern men refusing to vote, when the amend 
ment w r ould have been rejected by four majority 
if they had voted. Who, then, has brought these 
evils on the country? Was it Mr. Clark? He 



was acting out his own policy ; but with the help 
we had from the other side of the Chamber, if all 
those on this side had been true to the Constitution 
and faithful to their constituents, and had acted 
with fidelity to the country, the amendment of the 
Senator from New Hampshire could have been 
voted down, the defeat of which, the Senator from 
Delaware says, would have saved the country. 
Whose fault was it ? Who is responsible for it ? 
Who did it ? Southern traitors, as was said in the 
speech of the Senator from California. They did 
it. They wanted no compromise. They accom 
plished their object by withholding their votes; and 
hence the country has been involved in the present 
difficulty. Let me read another extract from this 
speech of the Senator from California : 

"I recollect full well the joy that pervaded the faces of 
some of those gentlemen at the result, and the sorrow man 
ifested by the venerable Senator from Kentucky, [Mr. Crit- 
tenden.] The record shows that Mr. Pugh, from Ohio, 
despairing of any compromise between the extremes of ultra 
Republicanism and disunionists, working manifestly for the 
same end, moved, immediately after the vote was announced, 
to lay the whole subject on the table. If you will turn to 
page 443, in the same volume, you will find, when, at a late 
period, Mr. Cameron, from Pennsylvania, moved to reconsider 
the vote, appeals having been made to sustain those who were 
struggling to preserve the peace of the country, that the vote 
was reconsidered ; and when, at last, the Crittenden proposi 
tions were submitted on the 2d day of March, these Southern 
States having nearly all seceded, they were then lost by but 
one vote. Here is the vote : 


" * Yeas Messrs. Bayard, Bigler, Bright, Crittenden, 
Douglas, Gwin, Hunter, Johnson of Tennessee, Kennedy, 
Lane, Latham, Mason, Nicholson, Polk, Pugh, Rice, Sebas 
tian, Thomson, and Wigfall 19. 

" Nays Messrs. Anthony, Bingham, Chandler, Clark, 
Dixon, Doolittle, Durkee, Fessenden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, 
Harlan, King, Morrill, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, 
Wilkinson, and Wilson 20. 

" If these seceding Southern Senators had remained, there 
would have passed, by a large vote, (as it did without them,) 
an amendment, by a two-thirds vote, forbidding Congress 
ever interfering with slavery in the States. The Crittenden 
proposition would have been indorsed by a majority vote, the 
subject finally going before the people, who have never yet, 
after consideration, refused justice, for any length of time, to 
any portion of the country. 

" I believe more, Mr. President, that these gentlemen were 
acting in pursuance of a settled and fixed plan to break up 
and destroy this Government." 

When we had it in our power to vote down the 
amendment of the Senator from New Hampshire, 
and adopt the Crittenden resolutions, certain South 
ern Senators prevented it ; and yet, even at a late 
day of the session, after they had seceded, the Crit 
tenden proposition was only lost by one vote. If 
rebellion and bloodshed and murder have followed, 
to whose skirts does the responsibility attach ? I 
summed up all these facts myself in a speech during 
the last session ; but I have preferred to read from 
the speech of the Senator from California, he being 
better authority, and having presented the facts 
better than I could. 

What else was done at the very same session ? 


The House of Representatives passed, and sent 
to this body, a proposition to amend the Consti 
tution of the United States, so as to prohibit Con 
gress from ever hereafter interfering with the in 
stitution of slavery in the States, making that 
restriction a part of the organic law of the land. 
That constitutional amendment came here after the 
Senators from seven States had seceded ; and yet it 
was passed by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. 
Have you ever heard of any one of the States 
which had then seceded, or which has since se 
ceded, taking up that amendment to the Constitu 
tion, and saying they would ratify it, and make 
it a part of that instrument ? No. Does not the 
whole history of this rebellion tell you that it was 
revolution that the leaders wanted, that they started 
for, that they intended to have ? The facts to 
which I have referred show how the Crittenden prop 
osition mi;:ht have been carried ; and when the 
Senators from the slave States were reduced to one 
fourth of the members of this body, the two Houses 
passed a proposition to amend the Constitution, so 
as to guarantee to the States perfect security in re 
gard to the institution of slavery in all future time, 
and prohibiting Congress from legislating on the 

But what more was done ? After Southern Sen 
ators had treacherously abandoned the Constitu 
tion and deserted their posts here, Congress passed 
bills for the organization of three new Territories, 


Dakota, Nevada, and Colorado ; and in the sixth 
section of each of those bills, after conferring, af 
firmatively, power on the Territorial Legislature, 
it went on to exclude certain powers by using a 
negative form of expression ; and it provided, 
among other things, that the Legislature should 
have no power to legislate so as to impair the right 
to private property ; that it should lay no tax dis 
criminating against one description of property in 
favor of another ; leaving the power on all these 
questions not in the Territorial Legislature, but in 
the people when they should come to form a State 

Now, I ask, taking the amendment to the Con 
stitution, and taking the three territorial bills, 
embracing every square inch of territory in the 
possession of the United States, how much of the 
slavery question was left ? What better compro 
mise could have been made ? Still we are told that 
matters might have been compromised, and that 
if we had agreed to compromise, bloody rebellion 
would not now be abroad in the land. Sir, South 
ern Senators are responsible for it. They stood 
here with power to accomplish the result, and yet 
treacherously, and, I may say, tauntingly, they 
left this Chamber, and announced that they had 
dissolved their connection with the Government. 
Then, when we were left in the hands of those 
whom we had been taught to believe would en 
croach upon our rights, they gave us, in the consti- 


tutional amendment and in the three territorial bills, 
all that had ever been asked ; and yet gentlemen 
talk about compromise. Why was not this taken 
and accepted ? 

No ; it was not compromise that the leaders 
wanted ; they wanted power ; they wanted to de 
stroy this Government, so that they might have place 
and emolument for themselves. They had lost confi 
dence in the intelligence and virtue and integrity of 
the people, and their capacity to govern themselves ; 
and they intended to separate and form a govern 
ment, the chief corner-stone of which should be 
slavery, disfranchising the great mass of the people, 
of which we have seen constant evidence, and merg 
ing the powers of government in the hands of the 
few. I know what I say. I know their feelings 
and their sentiments. I served in the Senate here 
with them. I know they were a close corporation, 
that had no more confidence in or respect for the peo 
ple than has the Dey of Algiers. I fought that close 
corporation here. I knew that they were no friends 
of the people. I knew that Slidell and Mason and 
Benjamin and Iverson and Toombs were the enemies 
of free government, and I know so now. I com 
menced the war upon them before a State seceded ; 
and I intend to keep on fighting this great battle 
before the country for the perpetuity of free govern 
ment. They seek to overthrow it, and to establish 
a despotism in its place. That is the great battle 
which is upon our hands. The great interests of 


civil liberty and free government call upon every 
patriot and every lover of popular rights to come 
forward and discharge his duty. 

We see this great struggle ; we see that the exer 
cise of the vital principle of government itself is de 
nied by those who desire our institutions to be over 
thrown and despotism established on their ruins. 
If we have not the physical and moral courage to 
exclude from our midst men whom we believe to 
be unsafe depositaries of public power and public 
trust, men whose associates were rolling off hon 
eyed accents against coercion, and are now in the 
traitors camp, if we have not the courage to force 
these men from our midst, because we have known 
them, and have been personal friends with them 
for years, we are not entitled to sit here as Sena 
tors ourselves. Can you expect your brave men, 
your officers and soldiers who are now in " the 
tented field," subject to all the hardships and pri 
vations pertaining to a civil war like this, to have 
courage, and to march on with patriotism to crush 
treason on every battle-field, when you have not 
the courage to expel it from your midst? Set 
those brave men an example ; say to them by your 
acts and voice that you evidence your intention to 
put down traitors in the field by ejecting them 
from your midst, without regard to former associ 

I do not say these things in unkindness. I say 
them in obedience to duty, a high constitutional 


duty that I owe to my country ; yes, sir, that I 
owe to my wife and children. By your failure to 
exercise the powers of this Government, by your 
failure to enforce the laws of the Union, I am sep 
arated from those most clear to me. Pardon me, 
sir, for this personal allusion. My wife and chil 
dren have been turned into the street, and my house 
has been turned into a barrack, and for what? 
Because I stand by the Constitution and the in 
stitutions of the country that I have been taught 
to love, respect, and venerate. This is my offence. 
Where are my sons-in-law ? One to-day is lying 
in prison ; another is forced to fly to the mountains 
to evade the pursuit of the hell-born and hell-bound 
conspiracy of disunion and secession ; and when 
their cries come up here to you for protection, we 
are told, " No ; I am against the entire coercive 
policy of the Government." 

The speech of the Senator from California the 
other day had the effect in some degree, and 
seemed to be intended to give the question a party 
tinge. If I know myself, although, as I avowed 
before, I am a Democrat, and expect to live and 
die one, I know no party in this great struggle 
for the existence of my country. The argument 
presented by the Senator from California was, that 
we need not be in such hot pursuit of Mr. Bright, 
or those Senators who entertain his sentiments, 
who are still here, because we had been a little 
dilatory in expelling other traitorous Senators here- 


tofore, and he referred us to the resolution of the 
Senator from Maine, 1 which was introduced at the 
special session in March last, declaring that certain 
Senators having withdrawn, and their seats having 
thereby become vacant, the Secretary should omit 
their names from the roll of the Senate. I know 
there seemed to be a kind of timidity, a kind of 
fear, to make use of the word " expel " at that 
time ; but the fact that we declared the seats vacant, 
and stopped there, did not preclude us from after 
wards passing a vote of censure. The resolution, 
which was adopted in March, merely stated the fact 
that Senators had withdrawn, and left their seats 
vacant. At the next session a resolution was in 
troduced to expel the other Senators from the se 
ceded States who did not attend in the Senate ; and 
my friend 2 moved to strike out of that very resolu 
tion the word " expelled," and insert "vacated " ; 
so that I do not think he ought to be much offended 
at it. I simply allude to it to show how easy it is 
for us to forget the surrounding circumstances that 
influenced our action at the time it took place. We 
know that a year ago there was a deep and abiding 
hope that the rebellion would not progress as it has 
done ; that it would cease ; and that there might 
be circumstances which, at one time, would to some 
extent justify us in allowing a wide margin which, 
at another period of time would be wholly unjusti 

i Mr. Fessenden. 2 Mr. Latham. 


All this, however, amounts to nothing. We have 
a case now before us that requires our action, and 
we should act upon it conscientiously in view of 
the facts which are presented. Because we neg 
lected to expel traitors before, and omitted to have 
them arrested, and permitted them to go away 
freely, and afterwards declared their seats vacant 
because they had gone, we are not now prevented 
from expelling a Senator who is not worthy to be 
in the Senate. I do not say that other traitors 
may not be punished yet. I trust in God the time 
will come, and that before long, when these traitors 
can be overtaken, and we may mete out to them 
condign punishment, such as their offence deserves. 
I know who was for arresting them. I know who 
declared their conduct to be treason. Here in their 
midst I told them it was treason, and they might 
make the best of it they could. 

Sir, to sum up the argument, I think there is but 
little in the point presented by the Senator from 
New Jersey, of there being no proof of the reception 
of the letter ; and I think I have extracted the sta 
ple commodity entirely out of the speech of the Sen 
ator from Delaware ; and so far as the force of 
the argument, based upon the Senate having at one 
session expelled certain members, while at the pre 
vious session it only vacated their seats, is concerned, 
I think the Senator from California answers that 
himself. As to the polished and ingenious state 
ment of the case made by the Senator from New 


York, 1 I think I have answered that by putting the 
case upon a different basis from the one presented 
by him, which seems to control his action. 

Mr. President. I have alluded to the talk about 
compromise. If I know myself, there is no one who 
desires the preservation of this Government more 
than I do ; and I think I have given as much evi 
dence as mortal man could give of my devotion to 
the Union. My property has been sacrificed ; my 
wife and children have been turned out-of-doors ; 
my sons have been imprisoned ; my son-in-law has 
had to run to the mountains ; I have sacrificed a 
large amount of bonds in trying to give some evi 
dence of my devotion to the Government under 
which I was raised. I have attempted to show you 
that, on the part of the leaders of this rebellion, there 
was no desire to compromise : compromise was not 
what they wanted ; and now the great issue before 
the country is the perpetuation or the destruction 
of free government. I have shown how the resolu 
tion of the venerable Senator from Kentucky 2 was 
defeated, and that Southern men are responsible for 
that defeat, six sitting in their places and refusing 
to vote. His proposition was only lost by two 
votes ; and in the end, when the seceders had gone, 
by only one. Well do I remember, as was described 
by the Senator from California, the sadness, the 
gloom, the anguish that played over his venerable 
face when the result was announced^ and I went 

1 Mr. Harris. 2 Mr. Crittenden. 


across the Chamber, and told him that here were 
men refusing to vote, and that to me was adminis 
tered a rebuke by one of them for speaking to him 
on the subject, 

Now, the Senator from Delaware tells us that if 
that compromise had been made, all these conse 
quences would have been avoided. It is a mere 
pretence ; it is false. Their object was to overturn 
the Government. If they could not get the control 
of this Government, they were willing to divide the 
country and govern a part of it. Talk not of com 
promise now. What, sir, compromise with traitors 
with arms in their hands ! Talk about " our 
Southern brethren" when they present their swords 
at your throat and their bayonets at your bosoms ! 
Is this a time to talk about compromise ? Let me 
say, and I regret that I have to say it, that there is 
but one way to compromise this matter, and that is 
to crush the leaders of this rebellion and put down 
treason. You have got to subdue them ; you have 
got to conquer them ; and nothing but the sacrifice 
of life and blood will do it. The issue is made. 
The leaders of rebellion have decreed eternal separa 
tion between you and them. Those leaders must 
be conquered, and a new set of men brought forward 
who are to vitalize and develop the Union feeling in 
the South. You must show your courage here as 
Senators, and impart it to those who are in the field. 
If you were now to compromise, they would believe 
that they could whip you one to five, and you could 


not live in peace six months, or even three months. 
Settle the question now ; settle it well ; settle it 
finally; crush out the rebellion and punish the 
traitors. I want to see peace, and I believe that is 
the shortest way to get it. Blood must be shed, life 
must be sacrificed, and you may as well begin at 
first as last. I only regret that the Government has 
been so tardy in its operations. I wish the issue 
had been met sooner. I believe that if we had seen 
as much in the beginning as we see to-day, this 
rebellion would have been wound up and peace 
restored to the land by this time. 

But let us go on ; let us encourage the Army and 
the Navy ; let us vote the men and the means ne 
cessary to vitalize and to bring into requisition the 
enforcing and coercive power of the Government ; 
let us crush out the rebellion, and anxiously look 
forward to the day God grant it may come soon 
when that baleful comet of fire and of blood that 
now hovers over this distracted people may be chased 
away by the benignant star of peace. Let us look 
forward to the time when we can take the flag, the 
glorious flag of our country, and nail it below the 
cross, and there let it wave as it waved in the olden 
time, and let us gather around it, and inscribe as our 
motto, " Liberty and Union, now and forever, one 
and inseparable." Let us gather around it, and 
while it hangs floating beneath the cross, let us 
exclaim, " Christ first, our country next." Oh, how 
gladly rejoiced I should be to see the dove return- 



ing to the ark with the olive-leaf, indicating that 
land was found, and that the mighty waters had 
abated. I trust the time will soon come when we 
can do as they did in the olden times, when the 
stars sang together in the morning, and all creation 
proclaimed the glory of God. Then let us do our 
duty in the Senate and in the councils of the nation, 
and thereby stimulate our brave officers and soldiers 
to do theirs in the field. 

Mr. President, I have occupied the attention of 
the Senate much longer than I intended. In view 
of the whole case, without personal unkind feeling 
towards the Senator from Indiana, I am of opinion 
that duty to myself, duty to my family, duty to the 
Constitution, duty to the country, obedience to the 
public judgment, all require me to cast my vote to 
expel Mr. Bright from the Senate, and when the 
occasion arrives I shall so record my vote. 



FELLOW-CITIZENS : Tennessee assumed the form 
of a body politic, as one of the United States of 
America, in the year seventeen hundred and ninety- 
six, at once entitled to all the privileges of the Fed 
eral Constitution, and bound by all its obligations. 
For nearly sixty-five years she continued in the en 
joyment of all her rights, and in the performance 
of all her duties, one of the most loyal and devoted 
of the sisterhood of States. She had been honored 
by the elevation of two of her citizens to the highest 
place in the gift of the American people, and a third 
had been nominated for the same high office, who 
received a liberal though ineffective support. Her 
population had rapidly and largely increased, and 
their moral and material interests correspondingly 
advanced. Never was a people more prosperous, 
contented, and happy than the people of Tennessee 
under the Government of the- United States, and 
none less burdened for the support of the authority 
by which they were protected. They felt their 
Government only in the conscious enjoyment of the 
benefits it conferred and the blessings it bestowed. 

Such was our enviable condition until within the 


year just past, when, under what baneful influences 
it is not my purpose now to inquire, the authority of 
the Government was set at defiance, and the Con 
stitution and laws contemned, by a rebellious, armed 
force. Men who, in addition to the ordinary privi 
leges and duties of the citizen, had enjoyed largely 
the bounty and official patronage of the Government, 
and had, by repeated oaths, obligated themselves 
to its support, with sudden ingratitude for the 
bounty and disregard of their solemn obligation, 
engaged, deliberately and ostentatiously, in the ac 
complishment of its overthrow. Many, accustomed 
to defer to their opinions and to accept their guid 
ance, and others, carried away by excitement or 
overawed by seditious clamor, arrayed themselves 
under their banners, thus organizing a treasonable 
power, which, for the time being, stifled and sup 
pressed the authority of the Federal Government. 

In this condition of affairs it devolved upon the 
President, bound by his official oath to preserve, 
protect, and defend the Constitution, and charged by 
the law with the duty of suppressing insurrection 
and domestic violence, to resist and repel this rebel 
lious force by the military arm of the Government, 
and thus to reestablish the Federal authority. Con 
gress, assembling at an early day, found him en 
gaged in the active discharge of this momentous 
and responsible trust. That body came promptly 
to his aid, and while supplying him with treasure 
and arms to an extent that would previously have 


been considered fabulous, they, at the same time, 
with almost absolute unanimity, declared u that this 
war is not waged on their part in any spirit of 
oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or sub 
jugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfer 
ing with the rights or the established institutions of 
these States ; but to defend and maintain the suprem 
acy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union, 
with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the sev 
eral States unimpaired ; and that as soon as these 
objects are accomplished, the war ought to cease." 
In this spirit, and by such cooperation, has the Pres 
ident conducted this mighty conquest, until, as 
Commander-in-Chief of the Army, he has caused the 
national flag again to float undisputed over the capi- 
tol of our State. Meanwhile the State government 
has disappeared. The Executive has abdicated ; the 
Legislature has dissolved ; the Judiciary is in abey 
ance. The great ship of state, freighted with its 
precious cargo of human interests and human hopes, 
its sails all set, and its glorious old flag unfurled, has 
been suddenly abandoned by its officers and muti 
nous crew, and left to float at the mercy of the winds, 
and to be plundered by every rover upon the deep. 
Indeed the work of plunder has already commenced. 
The archives have been desecrated ; the public 
property stolen and destroyed ; the vaults of the 
State Bank violated, and its treasures robbed, in 
cluding the funds carefully gathered and consecrated 
for all time to the instruction of our children. 


In such a lamentable crisis the Government of 
the United States could not be unmindful of its 
high constitutional obligation to guarantee to every 
State in this Union a republican form of govern 
ment, an obligation which every State has a direct 
and immediate interest in having observed towards 
every other State ; and from which, by no action on 
the part of the people in any State, can the Federal 
Government be absolved. A republican form of 
government, in consonance with the Constitution of 
the United States, is one of the fundamental con 
ditions of our political existence, by which every 
part of the country is alike bound, and from which 
no part can escape. This obligation the national 
Government is now attempting to discharge. I have 
been appointed, in the absence of the regular and 
established State authorities, as Military Governor 
for the time being, to preserve the public property 
of the State, to give the protection of law actively 
enforced to her citizens, and, as speedily as may be, 
to restore her government to the same condition as 
before the existing rebellion. 

In this grateful but arduous undertaking, I shall 
avail myself of all the aid that may be afforded by 
my fellow-citizens. And for this purpose I respect 
fully but earnestly invite all the people of Tennes 
see, desirous or willing to see a restoration of her 
ancient government, without distinction of party 
affiliations or past political opinions or action, to 
unite with me, by counsel and cooperative agency, 


to accomplish this great end. I find most, if not all 
of the offices, both State and Federal, vacated, either 
by actual abandonment, or by the action of the in 
cumbents in attempting to subordinate their func 
tions to a power in hostility to the fundamental law 
of the State, and subversive of her national alle 
giance. These offices must be filled temporarily, 
until the State shall be restored so far to its accus 
tomed quiet, that the people can peaceably assemble 
at the ballot-box and select agents of their own 


choice. Otherwise anarchy would prevail, and no 
man s life or property would be safe from the desper 
ate and unprincipled. 

I shall therefore, as early as practicable, designate 
for various positions under the State and county 
governments, from among my fellow-citizens, per 
sons of probity and intelligence, and bearing true 
allegiance to the Constitution and Government of 
the United States, who will execute the functions 
of their respective offices until their places can be 
filled by the action of the people. Their authority, 
when their appointment shall have been made, will 
be accordingly respected and observed. 

To the people themselves the protection of the 
Government is extended. All their rio-hts will be 


duly respected, and their wrongs redressed when 
made known. Those who through the dark and 
weary night of the rebellion have maintained their 
allegiance to the Federal Government will be hon 
ored. The erring and misguided will be welcomed 


on their return. And while it may become neces 
sary, in vindicating the violated majesty of the law, 
and in reasserting its imperial sway, to punish intelli 
gent and conscious treason in high places, no merely 
retaliatory or vindictive policy will be adopted. To 
those especially who, in a private, unofficial capac 
ity, have assumed an attitude of hostility to the Gov 
ernment, a full and complete amnesty for all past 
acts and declarations is offered, upon the one condi 
tion of their again yielding themselves peaceful citi 
zens to the just supremacy of the laws. This I advise 
them to do for their own good, and for the peace and 
welfare of our beloved State, endeared to me by the 
associations of long and active years, and by the en 
joyment of her highest honors. 

And appealing to my fellow-citizens of Tennessee, 
I point you to my long public life as a pledge for 
the sincerity of my motives, and an earnest for the 
performance of my present and future duties. 




SENATORS : I am here to-day as the chosen Vice- 
President of the United States ; and as such, by 
constitutional provision, I am made the presiding 
officer of this body. I therefore present myself 
here in obedience to the high behests of the Ameri 
can people, to discharge a constitutional duty, and 
not presumptuously to thrust myself in a position so 
exalted. May I at this moment it may not be 
irrelevant to the occasion advert to the workings 
of our institutions under the Constitution which our 
fathers framed and Washington approved, as ex 
hibited by the position in which I stand before the 
American Senate, in the sight of the American 
people ? Deem me not vain or arrogant ; yet I 
should be less than man if under such circum 
stances I were not proud of being an American 
citizen, for to-day one who claims no high descent, 
one who comes from the ranks of the people, stands, 
by the choice of a free constituency, in the second 
place of this Government. There may be those 
to whom such things are not pleasing ; but those 


wlio have labored for the consummation of a free 
Government will appreciate and cherish institu 
tions which exclude none, however obscure his 
origin, from places of trust and distinction. The 
people, in short, are the source of all power. You, 
Senators, you who constitute the bench of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, are but the 
creatures of the American people ; your exaltation 
is from them ; the power of this Government con 
sists in its nearness and approximation to the great 
mass of the people. You, Mr. Secretary Seward, 
Mr. Secretary Stanton, the Secretary of the Navy, 
and the others who are your associates, you 
know that you have my respect and my confidence, 
derive not your greatness and your power alone 
from President Lincoln. Humble as I am, ple 
beian as I may be deemed, permit me in the pres 
ence of this brilliant assemblage to enunciate the 
truth that courts and cabinets, the President and 
his advisers, derive their power and their great 
ness from the people. A President could not exist 
here forty-eight hours if he were as far removed 
from the people as the autocrat of Russia is sepa 
rated from his subjects. Here the popular heart 
sustains President and cabinet officers ; the popular 
will gives them all their strength. Such an asser 
tion of the great principles of this Government may 
be considered out of place, and I will not consume 
the time of these intelligent and enlightened people 
much longer ; but I could not be insensible to these 


great truths when I, a plebeian, elected by the people 
the Vice -President of the United States, am here 
to enter upon the discharge of my duties. For those 
duties I claim not the aptitude of my respected pred 
ecessor. Although I have occupied a seat in both 
the House of Representatives and the Senate, I am 
not learned in parliamentary law, and I shall be 
dependent on the courtesy of those Senators who 
have become familiar with the rules which are req 
uisite for the good order of the body and the dis 
patch of its business. I have only studied how I 
may best advance the interests of my State and of 
my country, and not the technical rules of order ; 
and if I err I shall appeal to this dignified body of 
representatives of States for kindness and indul 

Before I conclude this brief inaugural address in 
the presence of this audience, and I, though a 
plebeian boy, am authorized by the principles of the 
Government under which I live to feel proudly con 
scious that I am a man, and grave dignitaries are 
but men, before the Supreme Court, the represen 
tatives of foreign governments, Senators, and the 
people, I desire to proclaim that Tennessee, whose 
representative I have been, is free. She has bent 
the tyrant s rod, she has broken the yoke of slavery, 
and to-day she stands redeemed. She waited not 
for the exercise of power by Congress ; it was her 
own act, and she is now as loyal, Mr. Attorney- 
General, as is the State from which you came. It 


is the doctrine of the Federal Constitution that no 
State can go out of this Union ; and moreover Con 
gress cannot reject a State from this Union. Thank 
God, Tennessee has never been out of the Union ! 
It is true the operations of her government were for 
a time interrupted ; there was an interregnum ; 
but she is still in the Union, and I am her represen 
tative. This day she elects her Governor and her 
Legislature, which will be convened on the first 
Monday of April, and again her Senators and Rep 
resentatives will soon mingle with those of her 
sister States ; and who shall gainsay it ? for the Con 
stitution requires that to every State shall be guaran 
teed a republican form of government. 

I now am prepared to take the oath of office, and 
renew my allegiance to the Constitution of the 
United States. 



Mr. JOHNSON of Tennessee asked, and by unanimous con 
sent obtained, leave to bring in the following joint resolution ; 
which was read and passed to a second reading, and ordered 
to be printed. 


Whereas the fifth article of the Constitution of the 
United States provides for amendments thereto, in the 
manner following, viz: "1. Congress, whenever two 
thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall pro 
pose amendments to this Constitution, or on the appli 
cation of the legislatures of two thirds of the several 
States shall call a convention for proposing amendments, 
which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and 
purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by 
the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, 
or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one 
or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by 
Congress ; provided that no amendment which may be 
made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and 
eight, shall in any manner affect the first and fourth 
clauses in the ninth section of the first article ; and that 


no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its 
equal suffrage in the Senate " : Therefore, 

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representa 
tives of the United States of America in Congress as- 
sembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, That the 
following amendments to the Constitution of the United 
States be proposed to the legislatures of the several 
States, which when ratified by the legislatures of three 
fourths of the States, shall be valid to all intents and 
purposes as part of the Constitution : 

That hereafter the President and Vice-President of 
the United States shall be chosen by the people of the 
respective States, in the manner following : Each 
State shall be divided, by the legislature thereof, in 
districts equal in number to the whole number of Sen 
ators and Representatives to which such State may be 
entitled in the Congress of the United States ; the said 
districts to be composed of contiguous territory, and to 
contain, as nearly as may be, an equal number of per 
sons entitled to be represented under the Constitution, 
and to be laid off, for the first time, immediately after 
the ratification of this amendment, and afterwards, at 
the session of the legislature next ensuing the appor 
tionment of representatives by the Congress of the 
United States : that, on the first Thursday in August, 
in the year eighteen hundred and sixty-four, and on 
the same day every fourth year thereafter, the citizens 
of each State who possess the qualifications requisite 
for electors of the most numerous branch of the State 
legislatures, shall meet within their respective districts, 
and vote for a President and Vice-President of the 
United States; and the person receiving the greatest 


number of votes for President, and the one receiving 
the greatest number of votes for Vice-President in each 
district, shall be holden to have received one vote; 
which fact shall be immediately certified by the Gov 
ernor of the State, to each of the Senators in Congress 
from such State, and to the President of the Senate 
and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The 
Congress of the United States shall be in session on the 
second Monday in October, in the year eighteen hun 
dred and sixty-four, and on the same day on every 
fourth year thereafter; and the President of the Sen 
ate, in the presence of the Senate and House of Repre 
sentatives, shall open all the certificates, and the votes 
shall then be counted. The person having the greatest 
number of votes for President, shall be President, if 
such number be equal to a majority of the whole num 
ber of votes given ; but if no person have such majority, 
then a second election shall be held on the first Thurs 
day in the mouth of December then next ensuing, be 
tween the persons having the two highest numbers for 
the office of President; which second election shall be 
conducted, the result certified, and the votes counted, 
in the same manner as in the first ; and the person 
having the greatest number of votes for President, 
shall be President. But, if two or more persons shall 
have received the greatest, and an equal number of 
votes, at the second election, then the person who shall 
have received the greatest number of votes in the great 
est number of States, shall be President. The person 
having the greatest number of votes for Vice-President, 
at the first election, shall be Vice-President, if such 
number be equal to a majority of the whole number of 


votes given ; and if no person have such majority, then 
a second election shall take place between the persons 
having the two highest numbers, on the same day that 
the second election is held for President ; and the per 
son having the highest number of the votes for Vice- 
President, shall be Vice-President. But if there should 
happen to be an equality of votes between the persons 
so voted for at the second election, then the person 
having the greatest number of votes in the greatest 
number of States, shall be Vice-President. But when 
a second election shall be necessary in the case of Vice- 
President, and not necessary in the case of President, 
then the Smate shall choose a Vice-President from 
the persons having the two highest numbers in the 
first election, as is now prescribed in the Constitution: 
Provided, That the President to be elected in the year 
eighteen hundred and sixty-four, shall be chosen from 
one of the slaveholding States, and the Vice-President 
from one of the non-slavehelding States ; and, in the 
year eighteen hundred arid sixty-eight, the President 
shall be chosen from one of the non-slaveholding States, 
and the Vice-President from one of the slaveholding 
States, and so alternating the President and Vice- 
President every four years between the slaveholding 
and the non-slaveholding States, during the continuance 
of the Government. 

SEC. 2. And be it further resolved, That article one, 
section three, be amended by striking out the word 
" legislature," and inserting in lieu thereof the following 
words, viz : "persons qualified to vote for members of 
the most numerous branch of the legislature," so as to 
make the third section of said article, when ratified by 
three fourths of the States, read as follows, to wit : 


The Senate of the United States shall be composed 
of two Senators from each State, chosen by the persons 
qualified to vote for the members of the most numerous 
branch of the legislature thereof, for six years, and each 
Senator shall have one vote. 

SEC. 3. And be it further resolved, That article three, 
section one, be amended by striking out the words 
"good behavior," and inserting the following words, 
viz : " the term of twelve years." And further, that 
said article and section be amended by adding the follow 
ing thereto, viz : " and it shall be the duty of the Presi 
dent of the United States, within twelve months after 
the ratification of this amendment by three fourths of 
all the States, as provided by the Constitution of the 
United States, to divide the whole number of judges, 
as near as may be practicable, into three classes. The 
seats of the judges of the first class shall be vacated at 
the expiration of the fourth year from such classifica 
tion ; of the second class, at the expiration of the eighth 
year; and of the third class, at the expiration of the 
twelfth year, so that one third may be chosen every 
fourth year thereafter." 

The article as amended will read as follows : 

ARTICLE 3. SECTION 1. The judicial power of the 
United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, 
and in such inferior courts as the Congress, from time 
to time, may ordain and establish. The judges, both 
of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their 
offices during the term of twelve years, and shall, at 
stated times, receive for their services a compensation, 
which shall not be diminished during their continuance 
in office. And it shall be the duty of the President of 


the United States, within twelve months after the rati 
fication of this amendment by three fourths of all the 
States, as provided by the Constitution of the United 
States, to divide the whole number of judges, as near 
as may be practicable, into three classes. The seats 
of the judges of the first class shall be vacated at the 
expiration of the fourth year from such classification ; 
of the second class, at the expiration of the eighth 
year ; and of the third class, at the expiration of the 
twelfth year, so that one third may be chosen every 
fourth year thereafter: Provided, however. That all 
vacancies occurring under the provisions of this section 
shall be filled by persons, one half of whom shall be 
chosen from the slaveholding States, and the other half 
with persons chosen from the non-slaveholding States ; 
so that the Supreme Court will be equally divided 
between the slaveholding and the non-slaveholding 


ON the 18th of April, 1865, a delegation of citizens of 
Illinois paid their respects to President Johnson, at his 
rooms in the Treasury Building. 

Governor Oglesby presented the delegation, and made 
the subjoined address : 

MR. PRESIDENT : I take much pleasure in present 
ing to you this delegation of the citizens of Illinois, rep 
resenting almost every portion of the State. We are 
drawn together by the mournful events of the past few 
days, to give some feeble expression to the feelings we, 


in common with the whole nation, realize as pressing us 
to the earth, by appropriate and respectful ceremonies. 
We thought it not inappropriate before we should sepa 
rate, even in this sad hour, to seek this interview with 
your Excellency, that, while the bleeding heart is pour 
ing out its mournful anguish over the death of our be 
loved late President, the idol of our State and the pride 
of the whole country, we may earnestly express to you, 
the living head of this nation, our deliberate, full, and 
abiding confidence in you as the one who, in these dark 
hours, must bear upon yourself the mighty responsibility 
of maintaining, defending, and directing its affairs. In 
the midst of this sadness, through the oppressive gloom 
that surrounds us, we look to you and to a bright future 
for our country. The assassination of the President of 
the United States deeply depresses and seriously aggra 
vates the entire nation ; but under our blessed Constitu 
tion it does not delay, nor for any great length of time 
retard, its progress ; does not for an instant disorganize 
or threaten its destruction. The record of your whole 
past life, familiar to all, the splendor of your recent gigan 
tic efforts to stay the hand of treason and assassination, 
and restore the flag to the uttermost bounds of the Re 
public, assure that noble State which we represent, and. 
we believe, the people of the United States, that we may 
safely trust our destinies in your hands ; and to this end 
we come, in the name of the State of Illinois, and, we 
confidently believe, fully and faithfully expressing the 
wishes of our people, to present and pledge to you the 
cordial, earnest, and unremitting purpose of our State to 
give your administration the strong support we have 
heretofore given to the administration of our lamented 


late President, the policy of whom we have heretofore, 
do now, and shall continue to endorse. 


President Johnson replied as follows : 
GENTLEMEN : I have listened with profound emotion 
to the kind words you have addressed to me. The visit 
of this large delegation to speak to me through you> 
sir, these words of encouragement, I had not anticipated. 
In the midst of the saddening circumstances which sur 
round us, and the immense responsibility thrown upon 
me, an expression of the confidence of individuals, and 
still more of an influential body like that before me, rep 
resenting a great commonwealth, cheers and strengthens 
my heavily burdened mind. I am at a loss for words to 
respond. In an hour like this, of deepest sorrow, were 
it possible to embody in words the feelings of my bosom, 
I could not command my lips to utter them. Perhaps 
the best reply I could make, and the one most readily ap 
propriate to your kind assurances of confidence, would 
be to receive them in silence. [Sensation.] The throb- 
bings of my heart since the sad catastrophe which has 
appalled us cannot be reduced to words ; and, oppressed 
as I am with the new and great responsibility which has 
devolved upon me, and saddened with grief, I can with 
difficulty respond to you at all. But I cannot permit 
such expression of the confidence reposed in me by the 
people to pass without acknowledgment. To an indi 
vidual like myself, who has never claimed much, but 
who has, it is true, received from a generous people 
many marks of trust and honor for a long time, an occa 
sion like this and a manifestation of public feeling so 


well-timed are peculiarly acceptable. Sprung from the 
people myself, every pulsation of the popular heart finds 
an immediate answer in my own. By many men in pub 
lic life such occasions are often considered merely formal. 
To me they are real. Your words of countenance and 
encouragement sank deep in my heart, and were I even 
a coward I could not but gather from them strength to 
carry out my convictions of right. Thus feeling, I shall 
enter upon the discharge of my great duty firmly, stead-^ 
fastly, [applause,] it not with the signal ability exhibited 
by my predecessor, which is still fresh in our sorrowing 
minds. Need I repeat that no heart feels more sensi 
bly than mine this great affliction ? In what I say on 
this occasion I shall indulge in no petty spirit of anger, 
no feeling of revenge. But we have beheld a notable 
event in the history of mankind. In the midst of the 
American people, where every citizen is taught to obey 
law and observe the rules of Christian conduct, our 
Chief Magistrate, the beloved of all hearts, has been as 
sassinated ; and when we trace this crime to its cause, 
when we remember the source whence the assassin drew 
his inspiration, and then look at the result, we stand yet 
more astounded at this most barbarous, most diabolical 
assassination. Such a crime as the murder of a great 
and good man, honored and revered, the beloved and the 
hope of the people, springs not alone from a solitary in 
dividual of ever so desperate wickedness. We can trace 
its cause through successive steps, without my enumerat 
ing them here, back to that source which is the spring 
of all our woes. No one can say that if the perpetrator 
of this fiendish deed be arrested he should not undergo 
the extremest penalty the law knows for crime ; none 


\vill say that mercy should interpose. But is he alone 
guilty? Here, gentlemen, you perhaps expect me to 
present some indication of my future policy. One thing 
I will say. Every era teaches its lesson. The times 
we live in are not without instruction. The American 
people must be taught if they do not already feel 
that treason is a crime and must be punished ; [ap 
plause ;] that the Government will not always bear with 
its enemies ; that it is strong, not only to protect, but to 
punish. [Applause.] When we turn to the criminal 
code and examine the catalogue of crimes, we there find 
arson laid down as a crime with its appropriate penalty ; 
we find there theft and robbery and murder given as 
crimes ; and there, too, we find the last and highest of 
crimes, treason. [Applause.] With other and infe 
rior offences our people are familiar. But in our peace 
ful history treason has been almost unknown. The peo 
ple must understand that it is the blackest of crimes, and 
will be surely punished. [Applause.] I make this allu 
sion, not to excite the already exasperated feelings of the 
public, but to point out the principles of public justice 
which should guide our action at this particular juncture, 
and w r hich accord with sound public morals. Let it be 
engraven on every heart that treason is a crime, and 
traitors shall suffer its penalty. [Applause.] While 
we are appalled, overwhelmed at the fall of one man in 
our midst by the hand of a traitor, shall we allow men 
I care not by what weapons to attempt the life of a 
State with impunity ? While we strain our minds to 
comprehend the enormity of this assassination, shall we 
allow the nation to be assassinated ? [Applause.] I 
speak in no spirit of unkindness. I leave the events of 


the future to be disposed of as they arise, regarding my 
self as the humble instrument of the American people. 
In this, as in all things, justice and judgment shall be 
determined by them. I do not harbor bitter or revenge 
ful feelings toward any. In general terms I would say 
that public morals and public opinion should be estab 
lished upon the sure and inflexible principles of justice. 
[Applause.] When the question of exercising mercy 
comes before me it will be considered calmly, judicially, 
remembering that I am the Executive of the nation. 
I know men love to have their names spoken of in con 
nection with acts of mercy ; and how easy it is to yield 
to this impulse. But we must not forget that what may 
be mercy to the individual is cruelty to the State. [Ap 
plause.] In the exercise of mercy there should be no 
doubt left that this high prerogative is not used to relieve 
a few at the expense of the many. Be assured that I 
shall never forget that I am not to consult my own feel 
ings alone, but to give an account to the whole people. 
[Applause.] In regard to my future course I will now 
make no professions, no pledges. I have been connected 
somewhat actively with public affairs, and to the history 
of my past public acts, which is familiar to you, I refer 
for those principles which have governed me heretofore, 
and will guide me hereafter. In general I will say I have 
long labored for the amelioration and elevation of the 
great mass of mankind. My opinions as to the nature 
of popular government have long been cherished ; and 
constituted as I am, it is now too late in life for me to 
change them. I believe that government was made 
for man, not man for government. [Applause.] This 
struggle of the people against the mo 4 gigantic rebel- 


lion the WDrld ever saw has demonstrated that the attach 
ment of the people to their Government is the strongest 
national defence human wisdom can devise. [Applause.] 
So long as each man feels that the interests of the Gov 
ernment are his interests, so long as the public heart 
turns in the right direction, and the people understand 
and appreciate the theory of our Government and love 
liberty, our Constitution will be transmitted unimpaired. 
If the time ever comes when the people shall fail, the 
Government will fail, and we shall cease to be one of 
the nations of the earth. After having preserved our 
form of free government, and shown its power to main 
tain its existence through the vicissitudes of nearly a 
century, it may be that it was necessary for us to pass 
through this last ordeal of intestine strife to prove that 
this Government will not perish from internal weakness, 
but will stand to defend itself against all foes and punish 
treason. [Applause.] In the dealings of an inscrutable 
Providence and by the operation of the Constitution, I 
have been thrown unexpectedly into this position. My 
past life, especially my course during the present unholy 
Rebellion, is before you. I have no principles to retract ; 
1 defy any one to point to any of my public acts at vari 
ance with the fixed principles which have guided me 
through life. I have no professions to offer. Professions 
and promises would be worth nothing at this time. No 
one can foresee the circumstances that will hereafter 
arise. Had any man, gifted with prescience four years 
ago, uttered and written down in advance the events of 
this period, they would have seemed more marvellous 
than anything in the " Arabian Nights." I shall not 
attempt to anticipate the future. As events occur, and 


it becomes necessary for me to act, I shall dispose of 
each as it arises, deferring any declaration or message 
until it can be written, paragraph by paragraph, in the 
light of events as they transpire. 

The members of the delegation were then severally 
introduced to the President by Governor Oglesby. 


ON the 20th of April, 1865, Sir Frederick A. Bruce, 
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of 
her Britannic Majesty to the United States Government, 
presenting his credentials to the President, spoke as fol 
lows : 

MR. PRESIDENT: It is with deep and sincere concern 
that I have to accompany my first official act with expres 
sions of condolence. On Saturday last the ceremony 
that takes place here to-day was to have been performed, 
but the gracious intentions of the late lamented President 
were frustrated by the events which have plunged this 
country in consternation and affliction, and which will 
call forth in Great Britain feelings of horror as well as 
of profound sympathy. It becomes, therefore, rny duty, 
sir, to present the letter from my sovereign, of which I 
am the bearer, to you, as President of the United States, 
and it is with pleasure that I convey the assurances of 
regard and good-will which her Majesty entertains to 
ward you, sir, as President of the United States. I am 
further directed to express her Majesty s friendly dispo 
sition towards the great Nation of which you are Chief 


Magistrate, and her hearty good wishes for its peace, 
prosperity, and welfare. Her Majesty has nothing more 
at heart than to conciliate those relations of amity and 
good understanding which have so long and so happily 
existed between the two kindred nations of the United 
Stages and Great Britain, and it is in this spirit that I 
am directed to perform the duties of the important and 
honorable post confided to me. Permit me, sir, to say, 
that it shall be the object of my earnest endeavors to 
carry out my instructions faithfully in this respect, and 
to express the hope, sir, that you will favorably con 
sider my attempts to merit your approbation, and to give 
effect to the friendly intentions of the Queen and of her 
Majesty s Government. 1 have the honor to place in 
your hands the letter of credence confided to me by her 


To which President Johnson replied : 
SIR FREDERICK A. BRUCE : The very cordial and 
friendly sentiments which you have expressed on the 
part of her Britannic Majesty give me great pleasure. 
Great Britain and the United States, by the extended 
and various forms of commerce between them, the con 
tiguity of portions of their possessions, and the similarity 
of their language and laws, are drawn into constant and 
intimate intercourse. At the same time they are, from 
the same causes, exposed to frequent occasions of mis 
understanding, only to be averted by mutual forbearance. 
So eagerly are the people of the two countries engaged, 
throughout almost the whole world, in the pursuit of similar 
commercial enterprises, accompanied by natural rivalries 


and jealousies, that, at first sight, it would almost seem 
that the two Governments must be enemies, or at best 
cold and calculating friends. So devoted are the two 
nations throughout all their domain, and even in their 
most remote territory and colonial possessions, to the 
principles of civil rights and constitutional liberty, that, 
on the other hand, the superficial observer might errone 
ously count upon a continued concert of action and 
sympathy, amounting to an alliance between them. Each 
is charged with the development of the progress of the 
human race, and each in its sphere is subject to difficul 
ties and trials not participated in by the other. The 
interests of civilization and of humanity require that 
the two should be friends. I have always known and 
accounted as a fact honorable to both countries, that 
the Queen of England is a sincere and honest well- 
wisher to the United States. I have been equally frank 
and explicit in the opinion that the friendship of the 
United States toward Great Britain is enjoined by all 
considerations of interest and of sentiment affecting the 
character of both. You will, therefore, be accepted as a 
Minister friendly and well-disposed to the maintenance 
of peace and the honor of both countries. You will find 
myself and all my associates acting in accordance with 
the same enlightened policy and consistent sentiments, 
and so I am sure that it will not occur in your case that 
either yourself or this Government will ever have cause 
to regret that such an important relationship existed at 
such a crisis. 



SOON after the reception of the British Minister, the 
members of the Diplomatic Corps were presented to 
President Johnson, when Baron von Gerolt addressed 
the President as follows : 

MR. PRESIDENT : The representatives of foreign na 
tions have assembled here to express to your Excel 
lency their feelings at the deplorable event of which they 
have been witnesses ; to say how sincerely they share 
the national mourning for the cruel fate of the late 
President, Abraham Lincoln, and how deeply they sym 
pathize with the Government and people of the United 
States in their great affliction. With equal sincerity we 
tender to you, Mr. President, our best wishes for the 
welfare and prosperity of the United States, and for 
your personal health and happiness. May we be al 
lowed, also, Mr. President, to give utterance on this 
occasion to our sincerest hopes for an early reestablish- 
ment of peace in this great country, and for the main 
tenance of the friendly relations between the Government 
of the United States and the governments which we rep 


To which the President replied : 

thank you, on behalf of the Government and people of 
the United States, for the sympathy which you have so 
feelingly expressed upon the mournful event to which 
you refer. The good wishes also which you kindly offer 
for the welfare and prosperity of the United States, and 


for my personal health and happiness, are gratefully 
received. Your hopes for the early restoration of peace 
in this country are cordially reciprocated by me, and you 
may be assured that I shall leave nothing undone towards 
preserving those relations of friendship which now fortu 
nately exist between the United States and all foreign 


DURING the same month a deputation of loyal men 
from various Southern States waited on the President. 
In reply to a brief address, he said : 

It is hardly necessary for me on this occasion to say 
that my sympathies and impulses, in connection with this 
nefarious Rebellion, beat in unison with yours. Those 
who have passed through this bitter ordeal, and who par 
ticipated in it to a great extent, are more competent, as I 
think, to judge and determine the true policy which should 
be pursued. [Applause.] I have but little to say on 
this question in response to what has been said. It enun 
ciates and expresses my own feelings to the fullest extent, 
and in much better language than I can at the present 
moment summon to my aid. The most that I can say is 
that, entering upon the duties that have devolved upon 
me under circumstances that are perilous and responsible, 
and being thrown into the position I now occupy unex 
pectedly, in consequence of the sad event, the heinous 
assassination which has taken place, in view of all that 
is before me and the circumstances that surround me, 
I cannot but feel that your encouragement and kindness 


are peculiarly acceptable and appropriate. I do not think 
you, who have been familiar with my course, you who 
are from the South, deem it necessary for me to make 
any professions as to the future on this occasion, nor to 
express what my course will be upon questions that may 
arise. If my past life is no indication of what my future 
will be, my professions were both worthless and empty ; 
and in returning you my sincere thanks for this encour 
agement and sympathy, I can only reiterate what I have 
said before, and, in part, what has just been read. As 
far as clemency and mercy are concerned, and the proper 
exercise of the pardoning power, I think I understand the 
nature and character of the latter. In the exercise of 
clemency and mercy, that pardoning power should be 
exercised with caution. I do not give utterance to my 
opinions on this point in any spirit of revenge or unkind 
feelings. Mercy and clemency have been pretty large 
ingredients in my composition, having been the Executive 
of a State, and thereby placed in a position in which it was 
necessary to exercise clemency and mercy. I have been 
charged with going too far, being too lenient, and have 
become satisfied that mercy without justice is a crime, and 
that when mercy and clemency are exercised by the Ex 
ecutive, it should always be done in view of justice, and 
in that manner alone is properly exercised that great pre 
rogative. The time has come, as you who have had to 
drink this bitter cup are fully aware, when the American 
people should be made to understand the true nature 
of crime. Of crime generally our people have a high 
understanding, as well as of the necessity for its punish 
ment ; but in the catalogue of crimes there is one, and 
that the highest known to the laws and the Constitution, 


of which, since the days of Jefferson and Aaron Burr, 
they have become oblivious. That is treason. In 
deed, one who has become distinguished in treason and 
in this Rebellion said, that " when traitors become numer 
ous enough treason becomes respectable, and to become a 
traitor was to constitute a portion of the aristocracy of 
the country." God protect the people against such an 
aristocracy. Yes, the time has come when the people 
should be taught to understand the length and breadth, 
the depth and height of treason. An individual occupying 
the highest position among us was lifted to that position 
by the free offering of the American people, the highest 
position on the habitable globe. This man we have seen, 
revered, and loved, one who, if he erred at all, erred 
ever on the side of clemency and mercy, that man we 
have seen Treason strike, through a fitting instrument, and 
we have beheld him fall like a bright star falling from its 
sphere. Now, there is none but would say, if the ques 
tion came up, what should be done with the individual 
who assassinated the Chief Magistrate of the nation, 
He is but a man one man, after all. But if asked what 
should be done with the assassin, what should be the pen 
alty, the forfeit exacted ? I know what response dwells 
in every bosom. It is, that he should pay the forfeit with 
his life. And hence we see there are times when mercy 
and clemency, without justice, become a crime. The one 
should temper the other, and bring about that proper 
means. And if we should say this when the case was the 
simple murder of one man by his fellow-man, what should 
we say when asked what should be done with him, or them, 
or those, who have raised impious hands to take away the 
life of a nation composed of thirty millions of people ? 


What would be the reply to that question ? But while in 
mercy we remember justice, in the language that has 
been uttered, I say, justice toward the leaders, the con 
scious leaders ; but I also say amnesty, conciliation, clem 
ency, and mercy to the thousands of our countrymen whom 
you and I know have been deceived or driven into this 
infernal Rebellion. And so I return to where I started 
from, and again repeat that it is time our people were 
taught to know that treason is a crime, not a mere politi 
cal difference, not a mere contest between two parties, in 
which one succeeded and the other has simply failed. 
They must know it is treason ; for if they had succeeded, 
the life of the nation would have been reft from it, the 
Union would have been destroyed. Surely the Constitu 
tion sufficiently defines treason. It consists in levying war 
against the United States, and in giving their enemies aid 
and comfort. With this definition it requires the exer 
cise of no great acumen to ascertain who are traitors. It 
requires no great perception to tell who have levied war 
against the United States ; nor does it require any great 
stretch of reasoning to ascertain who has given aid to the 
enemies of the United States ; and when the Government 
of the United States does ascertain who are the conscious 
and intelligent traitors, the penalty and the forfeit should 
be paid. [Applause.] I know how to appreciate the con 
dition of being driven from one s home. I can sympa 
thize with him whose all has been taken from him, with 
him who has been denied the place that gave his children 
birth. But let us, withal, in the restoration of true gov 
ernment, proceed temperately and dispassionately, and 
hope and pray that the time will come, as I believe, when 
all can return and remain at our homes, and treason and 


traitors be driven from our land, [applause,] when 
again law and order shall reign, and the banner of our coun 
try be unfurled over every inch of territory within the area 
of the United States. [Applause.] In conclusion, let me 
thank you most profoundly for this encouragement and 
manifestation of your regard and respect, and assure you 
that I can give no greater assurance regarding the set 
tlement of this question, than that I intend to discharge 
my duty, and in that way which shall, in the earliest pos 
sible hour, bring back peace to our distracted country. 
And I hope the time is not far distant when our people 
can all return to their homes and firesides, and resume 
their various avocations. 


AT the close of the month of April, 1865, the Presi 
dent spoke as follows, in response to an address from a 
delegation from the State of Indiana : 

As my honorable friend [Governor Morton] knows, I 
long since took the ground that this Government was sent 
upon a great mission among the nations of the earth ; that 
it had a great work to perform, and that in starting it, it 
was started in perpetuity. Look back for one single mo 
ment to the Articles of Confederation, and then come 
down to 1787, when the Constitution was formed, what 
do you find ? That we, " the People of the United States, 
in order to form a more perfect government," etc. Pro 
vision is made for the admission of new States, to be 
added to the old ones embraced within the Union. Now, 


turn to the Constitution ; we find that amendments may 
be made by a recommendation of two thirds of the mem 
bers of Congress, if ratified by three fourths of the 
States. Provision is made for the admission of new 
States ; no provision is made for the secession of old 
ones. The instrument was made to be good in perpe 
tuity, and you can take hold of it, not to break up the 
Government, but to go on perfecting it more and more as 
it runs down the stream of time. We find the Govern 
ment composed of integral parts. An individual is an 
integer, and a State itself is an integer, and the various 
States form the Union, which is itself an integer, they 
all making up the Government of the United States. 
Now we come to the point of my argument, so far as 
concerns the perpetuity of the Government. We have 
seen that the Government is composed of parts, each 
essential to the whole, and the whole essential to each 
part. Now, if an individual [part of a State] declare 
war against the whole, in violation of the Constitution, 
he, as a citizen, has violated the law, and is responsible 
for the act as an individual. There may be more than 
one individual ; it may go on until they become parts of 
States. Sometimes the rebellion may go on increasing 
in number till the State machinery is overturned, and the 
country becomes like a man that is paralyzed on one 
side. But we find in the Constitution a great panacea 
provided. It provides that the United States (that is the 
great integer) shall guarantee to each State (the integers 
composing the whole) in this Union a republican form of 
government. Yes, if rebellion has been rampant, and set 
aside the machinery of a State for a time, there stands 
the great law to remove the paralysis, and revitalize it 


and put it on its feet again. When we come to under 
stand our system of government, though it be complex, 
we see how beautifully one part moves in harmony with 
another; then we see our Government is to be a perpe 
tuity, there being no provision for pulling it down, the 
Union being its vitalizing power, imparting life to the 
whole of the States that move around it like planets 
around the sun, receiving thence light, and heat, and mo 
tion. Upon this idea of destroying States, my position 
has been heretofore well known, and I see no cause to 
change it now, and I am glad to hear its reiteration on the 
present occasion. Some are satisfied with the idea that 
States are to be lost in territorial and other divisions; are 
to lose their character as States. But their life-breath 
has only been suspended, and it is a high constitutional 
obligation we have to secure each of these States in the 
possession and enjoyment of a republican form of govern 
ment. A State may be in the Government with a pecu 
liar institution, and by the operation of rebellion lose 
that feature ; but it was a State when it went into rebel 
lion, and when it comes out without the institution, it is 
still a State. I hold it a solemn obligation in any one of 
these States where the rebel armies have been beaten 
back or expelled, I care not how small the ship of state, 
I hold it, I say, a high duty to protect and to secure to 
them a republican form of government. This is no new 
opinion. It is expressed in conformity with my under 
standing of the genius and theory of our Government. 
Then, in adjusting and putting the Government upon its 
legs again, I think the progress of this work must pass 
into the hands of its friends. If a State is to be nursed 
until it again gets strength, it must be nursed by its 


friends, not smothered by its enemies. Now, permit me 
to remark, that while I have opposed dissolution and dis 
integration on the one hand, on the other I am equally 
opposed to consolidation, or the centralization of power 
in the hands of a few. 



Ableman vs. Booth, case of. 201 

Adams, John Quincy. See Veto. 

Alabama, the admission of into the "Union 231 

American State Papers quoted 115 

Anderson, Robert, General, notice of 282 

Andre , John, Major, the case of, cited 432 

Aristocracy, a dangerous class 37 

Arnold, Benedict, General, the case of, cited 432 

Assassination suggested in the Senate 173 

" Beauty and Booty/ watchwords of the English 187 

Benjamin, Judah P., Senator, remarks on the cession of 

Louisiana 180 

quotation from a speech at San Francisco 194 

Boyce, W. "W., his opinion of secession 252 

Breckinridge, John C., speech on the act approving the ac 
tion of President Lincoln 331 

Bright, Jesse D., the expulsion of. 405 

Brown, Albert G., senator from Mississippi 221 

Browning, , senator from Illinois, quoted 380 

Bruce, Sir Frederick A., speech to President Johnson 473 

Buchanan, James, on the acquisition of Cuba 13G 

" pledged to secession " 145 

Buell, D. C., General, evacuates Southern Tennessee. . . . xxvi 
Burr, Aaron, trial of, noticed 413 

Campbell, David, Judge 270 

Carrington, E 103 

Carter, Langdon. See Frank/and 270 

Castle Piuckney, S. C., seizure of 369 


486 INDEX. 


Charleston, S. C., surrender of, in 1779 207 

petition of the inhabitants of, to Sir Henry Clinton, &e. 210 

United States arsenal at, seized 369 

Clay, C. C., speech on the Lecompton Constitution 51 

reply to a speech of 55 

Clingrnan, , Senator 12 

Cobb, Howell, his opinion of the extent of the war 393 

Cockrill, Mack xxxvii 

" Coercion," noticed 95 

Cohens vs. Virginia, case of 105 

Collamer, Jacob, remarks on the personal-liberty laws 97 

Compromise considered 433 

Condorcet a democrat from philosophy 62 

Congress, power of, to give away lands 21 

Constitution of the United States, amendments to, proposed 77 

" a creature of the will of the people " 106 

formed for perpetuity 112 

growth of the country under the 350 

joint resolution proposing amendments to the 461 

Constitutional monarchy considered 277 

Conway, Elias N., governor of Arkansas 142 

" Cotton is King " 140 

Crittenden, John J., Senator from Kentucky 200 

cause of the defeat of the resolutions of 436 

Cuba, the acquisition of 136 

Davis, Jefferson, his remarks on a speech of Mr. Johnson. . 253 

his education, &c 285 

his reception at Montgomery, Ala 375 

issues letters of marque 380 

De Bow s Review on the institution of government 366 

Declaration of Independence quoted 56 

Democracy, James Madison s opinion of 53 

Lamartine s view of 58 

a permanent element of progress 60 

definition of 62 

the duty of, in 1860-61 170 

Douglas, Stephen A., discussion with Abraham Lincoln. . . . 195 

INDEX. 487 


East, Edward H xxvi 

East Tennessee, loyalty of 395 

address of the people of 395 

sufferings of the citizens of 480 

Elliot s Debates quoted 63 

Emigrant Aid Society 14 

England, the policy of 141 

Etheridge, Emerson xxii 

Excise law of 1798 sustained 114 

Fayetteville, N. C., arsenal at, seized 369 

Fessenden, W. P., senator from Maine 445 

Fitch, J., noticed 424 

Florida, consideration of the acquisition of 131 

Fort Barrancas, Flor., seizure of 370 

Fort Caswell, N. C., seizure of 370 

Fort Jackson, Ga., seizure of 369 

Fort Jackson, La., seizure of 370 

Fort Johnson, N. C., seizure of. 370 

Fort Macon, N. C., seizure of 369 

Fort MeRae, Flor., seizure of. 370 

Fort Morgan, Ala., seizure of 369 

Fort Moultrie, S. C., seizure of 369 

Fort Pike, La., seizure of 370 

Fort Pulaski, Ga,, seizure of 369 

Fort St. Philip, seizure of. 370 

Frankland, account of the State of 266 

Friends, arrested during the Revolution of 1776 333 

Fugitive-Slave Law noticed 97 

its enforcement in Boston 202 

Garrison, William Lloyd, quoted 261 

Gentry, Meredith P x 

Gist, , governor of South Carolina, message of 144 

Government the trustee of the people 180 

Gregg, Maxcy 212 

" Gulf Confederacy," the 250 

488 INDEX. 


Habeas Corpus, writ of, suspended during the Revolution of 

1776 337 

Hamilton, Alexander, noticed 91-229 

Hammond, , Senator, speech on the Lecompton Bill. 64 

Harding, W. D., General xxxvii 

Harris, Ira, senator from New York 447 

Harris, Isham G., Governor, noticed 357 

Hartford Convention, considered by the "Richmond En 
quirer " 203 

treason in the 205 

Henderson, Thomas, Editor " Raleigh Gazette," i 

Henry, Gustavus A x 

Henry, Patrick, views of democracy 62 

Hereditary constitutional monarchy proposed by the rebels. 156 

Homestead Bill, speech on the, May 20, 1858 12 

history of the 14 

Andrew Jackson s opinion of 18 

first introduced into the Congress of the United States . 19 

"Washington s opinion of 21 

intentions of the 26 

increases the receipts of the public treasury 27 

effect of the 28 

moral effect of the 33 

nationalizing effect of 38 

Homesteads in Illinois \ 20 

Hunter, R. M. T., senator from Virginia 196 

Illinois, homesteads in 20 

reception of the delegates from, April 18, 1865, 466 

Indiana, the loyalty of 429 

Jackson, A. Burt 281 

Jackson, Andrew. See Veto-Power 7 

See Homestead 18 

fine refunded to xvi 

prophecy of, in 1833 xxxiii 

on nullification 107 

proclamation of 1833 108 

Jefferson, Thomas, exercises the veto-power 6 

INDEX. 489 


Jefferson, Thomas, See Homestead Bill 19 

the democratic principles of 57 

inaugural address of 58 

letter to Col. Monroe 102 

letter to E. Carrington 103 

quoted . . 36, 198 

JOHNSON, ANDREW, biographical notice of i 

proclamation in reference to guerrillas xxiii 

assesses the rebels of Nashville, &c xxvi 

nominated for the vice-presidency xxx 

address at Nashville xxx 

letter accepting the nomination for the vice-presidency xxxi 

speech at Logansport, Ind xxxv 

address to the colored people of Nashville xxxv 

the " Moses speech " xxxvi 

inaugurated Vice-President xliii 

speech of April 3d, 1865 xliii 

inauguration as President xlvii 

speech on the veto-power, August 2, 1848 1 

speech on the Homestead Bill, May 20, 1858 12 

remarks on slavery 67 

speech on the constitutionality and rightfulness of seces 
sion, Dec. 18 and 19, 1860 77 

proposes amendments to the Constitution 77 

defines his position 81 

remarks on Vermont personal-liberty laws 98 

opposed to consolidation 150 

opinion of a monarchy 160 

speech on the state of the Union, delivered February 

5th and 6th, 1861 177 

reply to Senator Benjamin 178 

dialogue with Senator Wigfall 208 

reply to Senator Lane 214 

war not an element of his mind 218 

remarks on the territorial question 240 

his confidence in the people 249 

remarks on the speech of W. W. Boyce 252 

reply to Jefferson Davis 253 

490 INDEX. 


an " ally of every man who loves his country " 256 

remarks on the " abolitionists " and "nullifiers " 259 

prefers " black republicans " to " red " ones 204 

remarks on the attack on Fort Sumter 282 

refers to the education of Jefferson Davis 285 

apostrophe to the Union 286 

speech in reply to Senator Lane, March 2, 1861 290 

refers to the " homestead " policy 298 

speech at Cincinnati, Ohio, June 19, 1861 316 

speech on the war for the Union, July 27, 1861 828 

remarks on the proclamation of President Lincoln call 
ing for 75,000 men 341 

his faith in woman 355 

his course during the presidential election of 1860 386 

remarks on the action of J. C. Breckinridge 391 

predicts an uprising of the people 401 

speech on the expulsion of Jesse D. Bright 405 

stands by the administration of Mr. Lincoln 423 

His opinions of " coercion " 427 

considers " compromise " 433 

reply to Senator Saulsbury 434 

appeal to the people of Tennessee 451 

inaugural address, March 4, 1865 457 

his joint resolution proposing amendments to the Con 
stitution of the United States 461 

speech to the Illinois delegation, April 18, 1865 468 

speech to the English Ambassador, April 20, 1865 474 

reply to the diplomatic corps 476 

address to loyal Southerners 477 

speech to the Indiana delegation, April, 1865 481 

Keitt, L. M., speech at Columbia, S. C 145 

King, Rufus, quoted 53 

Lamartine, views of democracy 58 

Lane, " Joe," speech of 216 

speech at Concord, N. H., quoted 301 

speech on the 24th May, 1861, quoted 303 

INDEX. 491 


Latham, , senator from California, speech of 445 

quoted 435 

Lecompton Bill 64 

Lecompton Constitution 51 

Legare, Hugh, views of democracy 63 

Lincoln Abraham, discussion with Douglas 195 

the assassination of xlvi 

Lincoln, Thomas B., of Texas 405 

Livingston, Edward, letters on the Louisiana Treaty 184 

Louisiana, the acquisition of 128 

See Mississippi River 130 

treaty for the cession of 171 

condition of, in 1803 186 

how " oppressed " by the United States 189 

Loyal Southerners, President Johnson s address to 477 

Madison, James. See Veto-Power 

remarks on " pure democracies " 51 

resolutions of 1798 85 

letter to N. P. Trist, 1832 87 

letter on State Rights 89 

notice of 229 

" Marion," seizure of the 370 

Marshall, John, Chief Justice, views of democracy 63 

his opinion of secession 105 

Martial law, its existence during the Revolution of 1776 333 

Mason, James M., remarks on slavery in the South 70 

Mason, J. T., on the acquisition of Cuba 136 

Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society 260 

Massachusetts, the secession of 264 

May nard, Horace xxii 

Mississippi River, navigation of the 130 

Senator Lane s remarks on the navigation of 233 

Mobile, Ala., arsenal at, seized 369 

Monroe, James. See Veto-Power. 

Morris, Gouverneur, opinion of " homesteads " 54 

Morton, Governor of Indiana 481 

Moultrie, William, General, his Memoirs quoted. 207 

Mud-sills," use of the term 35, 65 

492 INDEX. 


Napoleon I., his " pure good will " towards the United 

States 184 

New York, pauperism in 34, 66 

Nullification at the North 98 

Oglesby, Richard J., Gov., speech to President Johnson. . . . 466 

Pauperism 31 

Pennsylvania, rebellion in 118 

Perkins, John, noticed 362 

Personal-liberty bills 95 

Petersburg, Va., the fall of xlvi 

Phillips, Wendell, quoted 260 

Pickens, F. W., Gov. of S. C., dispatch of, Jan. 19, 1861. . . 280 

Poinsett, Joel R., address to the people of Charleston, S. 0. 286 

Politicians, " the Goths and Vandals " 249 

Polk, James K. See Veto-Power , . 8 

Polk, Tristen, speech on the war quoted 371 

Post-offices and post-roads, rights of Congress to establish. . 120 

Powell, senator from Kentucky, quoted 372 

Property, " the main object of society " 53 

Public lands, the value of 40 

grants to railroads 45 

unsold lands in, June, 1856 46 

Railroads, grants of public lands to 45 

Resolution of 1798 85 

Richmond, Va., the fall of xlvi 

Rives, W. C 90 

Russell, William Howard, correspondent of the "London 
Times," quoted 353 

Saulsbury, senator of Delaware 433 

Schenck, R. C., Senator 9 

Secession, the constitutionality and rightfulness of 77 

the effect on a State after it is committed 124 

no remedy for the South 252 

INDEX. 493 


Sevier, John. See Frankland , 269 

Sherman, John, Senator 419 

Slave, definition of 67 

Slavery, the death of xxx 

remarks of Senator Hammond on 65 

the effect of, at the South 67 

how guaranteed in the United States 164 

not prohibited in the territories 348 

Slaves, Jeff. Davis s resolution for the protection of 220 

Slave-trade, L. W. Spratt s letter on the, quoted 362 

Slidell, John, noticed 389 

Smalley, David A., Judge 410 

Smith, John. See Aaron Burr 413 

Society, property the main object of 53 

Soule , Pierre, on the acquisition of Cuba 136 

South wants a " dictator " 356 

South Carolina, white population of 69 

operations in 69 

cedes lands to the United States for fortifications 121 

has no cause for complaint 166 

neutrality of, proposed during the Revolution of 1776. . 208 

the secession of, " not an event of a day ". 212 

decides against slave protection in the territories 241 

legislature, necessary qualifications for the 360 

Spratt, L. W., letter on the slave-trade 362 

" Star of the West," steamer, fired on 370 

State Rights defined 88 

noticed 92 

Stephens, A. H., quoted 287 

Swasey, J. B., quoted 261 

Ten Eyck, , senator from New Jersey 431 

Tennessee, the restoration of xxix 

See Mississippi River 130 

" not born of secession " 266 

admitted to the Union 274 

appeal to the people of 451 

Texas, the acquisition of, considered 127 

The " Remembrancer " quoted 210 

494 INDEX. 


Tipton, John. See Frankland 269 

Toombs, Robert, prefers the British Government 354 

Treason, what it is 205 

must be punished 470 

JTrist, N. P., letter from James Madison 87 

Tyler, John. See Veto-Power 7 

Union, the cause of the destruction of 247 

Vattel, " Law of Nations." quoted 15 

Vermont, nullification laws of 98 

Veto-power, speech on the 1 

origin of the 2 

in England 4 

in France 5 

in Norway 5 

in the American colonies 6 

Virginia, resolutions of the legislature of 176 

ratification of the Constitution by 226 

receives the brunt of the war 392 

Von Gerolt, Baron, address to President Johnson 476 

Wade, F., Senator 255 

Washington, George, exercises the veto-power 6 

opinion of the Homestead Bill 21 

message relative to the Whiskey Insurrection 114 

exercises martial law during the Revolution. 337 

Webster, Daniel 90-101 

on the State of Frankland 209 

Wheaton, Henry, Reports quoted 106 

" Elements of International Law," quoted 234 

Wheeler s History of North Carolina quoted 266 

Whiskey Insurrection noticed .... 114 

Washington s message on 115 

Wigfall, L. T., senator from Texas 208 

" William Aiken," revenue-cutter, seized 36*9 

Workingmen the strength of a nation 36 

Yulee, , senator from Florida 133 




This book is due on the last date stamped below. 
1 -month loans may be renewed by calling 642-3405. 
6-month loans may be recharged by bringing books 

to Circulation Desk. 
Renewals and recharges may be made 4 days prior 

to due date. 



DEC 5 1978 

28 195b 



DEC s 

APR 21 1980 

APR 1 8 1989 




w-Saf^ S